The Baylor Bears. The defending national champions. One of the better teams you will ever see. But the core of that team, four starters, are now gone. But his team still has loads of talent and got some more, which is why they are at #12 in my rankings.
If you have not yet seen #13, then you can do so here.
Each of the key returning players played in at least 28 games last season. Flo Thamba is the lone returning starter. The senior brings a lot of size and good post play to the team. He is a good rebounder and a big physical presence in the paint. Potential NBA prospect Matthew Mayer is athletic and could be one of the team’s best shooters. He shot almost 40% from three last year. Adam Flagler can score from all over, as he did in 2018-2019 at Presbyterian before transferring to Baylor. He was Baylor’s fourth-leading scorer (And the leading returning scorer) last season despite coming off the bench exclusively. Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua not only has one of the best names in college basketball, but he is also a very good player. He is very similar to Thamba. Very good rebounder and defender. Intimidating physical post presence.
Scott Drew is bringing in the nation’s fifteenth-ranked recruiting class in the country and the second-best in the Big 12. The best of the three in five-star small forward Kendall Brown. Brown is an extremely athletic wing with good, valuable length. He has good finishing ability with good handles and passing skills. The one thing he does need to improve on though is his shooting. He should be their starting SF from the beginning. The 40th overall recruit, shooting guard Langston Love, could also compete for a spot in the starting lineup to start out the season. Love does not make many, if any, mistakes when out on the court. He is a high IQ guard and a very efficient scorer.
The big transfer they bring in is former Georgetown and Arizona point guard James Akinjo. He is now on his third team in as many years. The Preseason All-Big 12 first team member is coming off of what was perhaps the best season of his collegiate career so far. Granted it was only his second full season (He only played in seven games for Georgetown two seasons ago), but he was still really good. Akinjo was 11th in the PAC-12 is scoring average last year, 8th in steals per game, and 2nd in assists per game. The problem with him though is his shooting. He only shot 36% from two-point range and only 37.9% from the field overall last season, 45th in the Big 12. If he can actually shoot well consistently enough for once, then he could end up being Baylor’s best player this season.
Drew can do one of two things with the starting lineup. He can start two big PFs or just go with one and start Mayer too. Given how similar Flo Thamba and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua are, I feel like it’s very unlikely that Drew starts both of them. I’ll give the edge as the starter to Thamba, but Tchamwa Tchatchoua could very well beat him out and start over him. But this way both of them stay in their roles from last season. It doesn’t matter which one of the two of them starts. They will both see significant playing time and have big roles on this team.
PF – #0 Flo Thamba (3.6 PPG/ 4.0 RPG)
SF – #24 Matthew Mayer (8.1 PPG/ 3.7 RPG/ 1.0 APG/ 1.2 SPG)
SF – #2 Kendall Brown (#13 overall recruit)
SG – #10 Adam Flagler (9.1 PPG/ 2.3 RPG/ 1.4 APG)
PG – #11 James Akinjo (15.6 PPG/ 2.3 RPG/ 5.4 APG/ 1.4 SPG)
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