Baylor Basketball

Baylor Basketball Draft: Selecting the 30-best players from the Scott Drew Era

May 22, 2020
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When Scott Drew took over the Baylor basketball program in the fall of 2003, there were hardly enough Division I-caliber players on the roster to form a starting lineup.

Seventeen years later, the list of elite players who have come through Waco thanks to Drew and his staff is jarring.

© Robert Deutsch-USA Today

Whether it was highly-touted McDonald’s All-Americans like Perry Jones or Isaiah Austin, or unheralded recruits such as Taurean Price and Johnathan Motley, who blossomed into stars, the list of standouts that Drew has coached stretches out longer than a roll of toilet paper. Or a receipt from Whataburger or CVS.

And so … we at SicEm365 decided to follow the trend and do the cliche—but fun—thing everyone seems to be doing during the pandemic. We made a list. Or better yet, a ranking of the best players at Baylor under Drew.

To do that, site owners Ashley Hodge and Colt Barber agreed to join me in a group chat to conduct the “Scott Drew Era Draft.” Picking in order, each of us chose 10 players—five starters and five subs—and then explained each selection in a separate paragraph.

Later that evening, ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla studied the three teams to determine which of us drafted the best.

Here is how the draft unfolded.


FIRST ROUND

Pick No. 1: Jared Butler, combo guard - My goal in the first round was to reconstruct the best backcourt in Baylor Bear basketball history and fortunately, since I was playing chess while my fellow managers were playing checkers, I was able to do that. I knew this would require me taking Jared Butler as my first pick. Butler was an All-American at Baylor and arguably the most clutch player in the Scott Drew era.  He tended to elevate his game when the pressure was the greatest. One more year!  Wingspan: 6-4 (Ashley Hodge)

Pick No. 2: Johnathan Motley, forward - How did the SicEm365 Player of the Decade fall to No. 2? I’m thrilled to build my team around one of the best post players the Big 12 has seen in the past decade, a guy who led Baylor to a No. 1 ranking for the first time in school history. At 6-9, Motley was a matchup nightmare who made defenders look foolish both in the paint and on the perimeter—AND he was a good free throw shooter, too. The 2018 winner of the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year award is my guy! (Jason King)

Pick No. 3: Pierre Jackson, point guard - There was always plenty of reason to criticize his defense, but his 19.8 points and 7.1 assists per game in 2012-2013 were Baylor’s highest in each category during Scott Drew’s time at Baylor. He was impossible to keep out of the lane and could fill it up from anywhere. (Colt Barber)

Pick No. 4: Taurean Prince, wing - A 6-foot-7 matchup problem who could handle the ball, shoot it from deep and wasn’t afraid to play defense anywhere on the court. Was efficient from anywhere on the court with his length and a solid free throw shooter to avoid being hacked by the defense. His versatility makes the pick a no brainer. (Colt Barber)

Pick No. 5: Tweety Carter, point guard - I want players who have excelled on the big stage, and Tweety accomplished that feat by leading the Bears to the Elite Eight for the first time in modern history. And everyone knows Baylor got hosed by the officials in that loss to Duke and should’ve been in the Final Four. Tweety–who averaged 15 points and a Big 12-best 5.9 assists as a senior—is a Baylor icon who is as responsible as any player for the program’s rise from the ashes. (Jason King)

Pick No. 6: Ekpe Udoh, center - Motley was off the board, so this was an easy choice for me.  The Nightmare gave Baylor incredible defense and rim protection (4 blocks per game).  But he also was a great playmaker (3 assists), scorer in the low post (13 ppg) and rebounder (10 per game). And he’s a huge chemistry guy, as well. Chemistry was really important to me since I knew my coaching abilities are suspect at best.  Wingspan: 7-5 (Ashley Hodge)

Matthew McBrayer
Jared Butler was the first player selected in the 2020 Baylor Basketball draft. 

Pick No. 7: Royce O’Neale, wing - One of the most undervalued players in Baylor basketball history, Royce could do it all. Hit open three-point shots (over 40%); post up smaller players; facilitate; handle the ball; play defense; guard bigger players at 6-foot-6. Every team needs swiss army knives to be successful and Royce is one of the best. Wingspan: 6-10 (Ashley Hodge)

Pick No. 8: LaceDarius Dunn, shooting guard - Baylor’s all-time leading scorer—and the second-leading scorer in Big 12 history—is still on the board? Um, yes please. I’ll take him. Dunn was a huge part of that 2010 Elite Eight squad, but he’s never played on a team as talented as the one I’m assembling now. So I’ll be interested to see how he reacts to the occasional yellow light when it comes to shot selection. Unless, of course, he’s having one of those nights when he’s hotter than donut grease. And he has those nights a lot. (Jason King)

Pick No. 9: Brady Heslip, shooting guard - This might have been a small reach with my third pick, but with additional back-to-back picks I knew I wanted a pure shooter. Heslip shot an incredible 43.7% from deep in his career at Baylor and averaged 10.2 points. He wasn’t going to do much else, but he absolutely took pressure off of the bigs in the paint. (Colt Barber)

Pick No. 10: Cory Jefferson, power forward - It took Jefferson a little while to develop into the best version of himself, but when he did, he was a force. Jefferson averaged at least 13.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in his final two years and was efficient from the field. (Colt Barber)

Pick No. 11: Mark Vital, small forward - I probably would’ve pulled out of the draft and started an overseas team if my favorite player in Baylor history was gone at this point. But now I’ve got him and it’s curtains for everyone else. “Mr. 95” can play as many minutes as he wants, and not just because he’s productive. I’ve assembled some talent, to be sure, but Motley and Dunn (and my next pick) are pretty quiet and mild-mannered. I need someone with energy who will set the tone on the court, a guy who makes everyone around him play harder and better. No one at Baylor has ever done that better than Vital. (Jason King)

Pick No. 12: Macio Teague, shooting guard - I was going with a calculated risk that I could get Mitchell and Teague at the end of the 1st round.  I figured guys like Tweety Carter, Pierre Jackson and Lace Dunn would get scooped up early. I was thrilled when I was able to get this backcourt together. This is a backcourt that helped win 23 straight games, a Big12 record; whipped a great Kansas team at Allen Fieldhouse and was slated to be a #1 seed in the NCAA tourney.  Teague, like Butler, is clutch and plays both ends of the court. Wingspan: 6-11 (Ashley Hodge)

Pick No. 13: Davion Mitchell, point guard - This team is going to play crazy defense, that is for sure. And there’s no better way to set that tone than to have a guard who will make life miserable for any other guard. Mitchell is the best defensive guard in the Scott Drew era (including AJ Walton) and he gives you a lot better offense than AJ. Wingspan: 6-4 (Ashley Hodge)

Pick No. 14: Perry Jones, forward - Lots of people like to look back on Perry’s Baylor career and talk about what he didn’t do. But I like to focus on what he did accomplish, which was helping the Bears reach the 2012 Elite Eight, where they lost to Anthony Davis and Kentucky—one of the most dominant college teams in recent memory. Jones is one of the most high-profile signees ever at Baylor, and he had some huge moments in the NBA as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 6-11 wing is as talented as any player to ever wear a Baylor uniform, but his aggression and drive were sometimes an issue. They won’t be on this team. Vital will coax it out of him. (Jason King)

Pick No. 15: Kevin Rogers, power forward - Three seasons with at least 12.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game is crazy efficient while playing the majority of his career as Baylor’s only post option. Not to mention he did it shooting over 50% from the field every season. (Colt Barber)


SECOND ROUND

Pick No. 16: Curtis Jerrells, point guard - I wanted to keep the pressure coming from the offensive end with the addition of Jerrells. The big-bodied point guard is a nice change up to Jackson on the defensive end, and his ability to get to the basket and finish is possibly the best Baylor has seen. (Colt Barber)

Pick No. 17: Makai Mason, combo guard - I did my due diligence and have confirmed that Mason is indeed healthy, so I feel good about this pick. I think Baylor fans appreciated Mason, but I’m not sure most people ever fully grasped just how good he was when his legs and knees and toes and pinky fingers and ears and hair follicles were all 100 percent. I mean … the dude scored 40 points against TCU. That’s the most points ever by a Baylor player in a Big 12 game. He practically willed Baylor to a win over Syracuse (22 points) in the first round of the NCAA tournament on a bum knee and he had 17 in a loss to No. 1 seed Gonzaga two nights later. Mason will play starter minutes on this squad. (Jason King)

Pick No. 18: Quincy Acy, forward - Imagine my surprise when Acy was available in the second round. What??? Scooped him up without hesitation. He brings the defense, leadership, edginess—dunks! Perfect-off-the-bench guy for Wingspan Matters. Wingspan: 7-2 (Ashley Hodge)

Pick No. 19: Freddie Gillespie, center - Defense, rebounding, shot blocking, mid range mastery … Freddie makes any team better, and this one is no exception. And on a team where wingspan matters, he has the longest wingspan. Wingspan: 7-7 (Ashley Hodge)

Pick No. 20: Rico Gathers, forward - I’ve already got Baylor’s all-time leading scorer, and now I’ve landed it’s career rebounding leader. (In all seriousness) Put that rap career on hold, big fella. You’ve still got something left on the court. (Jason King)

Pick No. 21: Isaiah Austin, center - Austin’s 3.1 blocks per game in 2013-2014 is second only to Ekpe Udoh’s 3.7 blocks per game in 2009-2010. He wasn’t the best defender, but he was a true rim protector with this length and could play inside and outside for the Bears on the offensive end. (Colt Barber) 

SicEm365
Manu Leccomte averaged  16.2 points per game as a senior in 2017-2018.

Pick No. 22: Quincy Miller, wing - My quest for taking length at the the 3-4-5 spots continues with the addition of Miller. He wasn’t as tenacious defensively as Prince, but his offensive game will be a nice compliment coming off the bench behind Prince. (Colt Barber)

Pick No. 23: Kenny Chery, point guard - Everything just seems to flow better when Chery—the most under-appreciated player of the Scott Drew era—is in the game. The ball just moves better. A calming force on the court, he led Baylor to what initially would’ve seemed like an unlikely Sweet 16 appearance in 2014 and a No. 3 seed in the tournament the following year. (Jason King)

Pick No. 24: Manu Lecomte, combo guard - Unlimited range, ball handling, underrated defensive player, played well in big games. A pleasant surprise in the mid-second round. Wingspan does matter, but the hardest part of basketball is putting the ball in the basket, and this team has guards that can score. Wingspan: 6-0 (Ashley Hodge)

Pick No. 25: Ish Wainright, wing - You can see a theme here: character over characters. Ish is the ideal teammate. He does what it takes to win and doesn’t care who gets the credit.  Wingspan: 7-2 (Ashley Hodge)

Pick No. 26: Aaron Bruce, combo guard - All Bruce did in his Baylor career was start 98 games en route to making the school’s All-Centennial squad. He averaged 12.5 points and shot 39 percent from beyond the arc. Bruce picked Baylor when picking Baylor wasn’t cool. Glad he’s on my squad. (Jason King)

Pick No. 27: T.J. Maston, power forward - The best pure scorer in the post in Scott Drew’s era? I’d challenge anyone to find someone better. His defense left a lot to be desired, but if you aren’t onto my method now, I’m expecting this team to score 100 as its best defense. YMCA T.J. creates havoc off the bench. (Colt Barber)

Pick No. 28: Henry Dugat, combo guard - Three times Dugat averaged over 1.2 steals per game and three times he averaged over 2.5 rebounds from the guard position. He shot an underrated 36.7% from three in his career and could get buckets when he was needed. The mix and match potential of Dugat with Heslip at the shooting guard position alongside Jackson and/or Jerrells is strong. (Colt Barber)

Pick No. 29: Jo Acuil, center - Baylor’s disappointing finish to the 2017-18 season—they lost in the second round of the NIT—made it easy to overlook just how much the 7-footer from Senegal improved during his time in Waco. Acuil was a true force as a senior, averaging 14 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. Motley, Rico, Vital and Big Jo in the paint? Who can hang with that? (Jason King)

Pick No. 30: Nuni Omot, wing - It was a tough call between Omot and Mario Kegler, but I went with Omot due to consistency from long range. And wingspan, of course.   Wingspan:  7-1 (Ashley Hodge)


*That was truly a lot of fun—and, frankly, much tougher than any of us anticipated. Seeing the names of all those elite players on the draft board is almost overwhelming. it puts into perspective just how good of a job Scott Drew has done during his time in Waco.

So … here are the post-draft rosters of our teams. Since each of is convinced that our squad is the best, we decided to let ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla be the judge. Make sure to scroll below the rosters to see who Fraschilla picked as the big winner.

TEAM #1

MANAGER: ASHLEY HODGE

PG Davion Mitchell

SG Jared Butler

SF MaCio Teague

PF Royce O’Neale

C Epke Udoh
(subs)

Freddie Gillespie

Quincy Acy

Manu Lecomte

Ish Wainwright

Nuni Omot


TEAM #2

MANAGER: JASON KING

PG Tweety Carter

SG LaceDarius Dunn

SF Mark Vital

PF Perry Jones

C Jonathan Motley

(subs)

Makai Mason

Kenny Chery

Rico Gathers

Aaron Bruce

Jo Acuil


TEAM #3

MANAGER: COLT BARBER

PG Pierre Jackson

SG Brady Heslip

SF Taurean Prince

PF Kevin Rogers

C Cory Jefferson

(subs)

Curtis Jerrells

Isaiah Austin

Quincy Miller

TJ Maston

Henry Dugat


FRASCHILLA’S TAKE

“As much as I loved watching all of these tremendous young men, I’d pick TEAM #3.

The backcourt of Pierre Jackson, Brady Heslip and Taurean Prince would be murder. Cory Jefferson would be my shot blocker. Kevin Rogers was one of the first high school stars to choose Baylor and doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He put them on a path to success but didn’t get to enjoy the fruits of his contributions.

Anytime you can bring Curtis Jerrells off your bench as the sixth man, that’s causing somebody trouble. Isaiah Austin and those other guys coming off the bench is ridiculous. (Laughing) We’d have to keep the subs in line and keep them from going off the deep end, because they’re all good enough to start.

Cory Jefferson played in the NBA, Taurean is in the NBA, Pierre had a taste of the NBA. And all Brady Heslip did was make 13 threes in a G-League game. I’d go to war with that team and play a 1-1-3 zone.”

 
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