Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 11/7/11

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

A year after nearly making the Final Four, the Baylor Bears were expected to do big things last season.  However, the team never truly jelled together and missed out on the NCAA Tournament.  With Perry Jones’ somewhat surprising decision to return to Waco, Baylor has one of the most talented rosters in the country.  Can Scott Drew put it all together though?

BAYLOR BEARS
Last Season: T-7th, 7-9 in Big 12, 18-13 overall
Predicted Big 12 Finish: 2nd

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Perry Jones (So)/J’mison Morgan (Sr)
PF: Quincy Acy (Sr)/Anthony Jones (Sr)/Cory Jefferson (Jr)
SF: Quincy Miller (Fr)/Fred Ellis (Sr)
SG: Brady Heslip (So)/Deuce Bello (Fr)
PG: A.J. Walton (Jr)/Pierre Jackson (Jr)/Gary Franklin (So)

Gone: SG-LaceDarius Dunn, PG-Stargell Love (transfer-Trinity Valley), SG-Nolan Dennis (transfer-Detroit), C-Dragan Sekelja (transfer-Florida Atlantic)

2011-2012 Outlook:
Baylor’s frontcourt is loaded with height, length, and versatility.  Perry Jones’ return gives the Bears a ton of flexibility since he can play multiple positions and do just about everything on the floor.  He is looking to bounce back after a fairly underwhelming freshman season and prove why he was one of the top recruits in the 2010 class.

The addition of top-ten recruit Quincy Miller adds even more hype for the up-coming season.  He suffered an ACL injury that prematurely ended his senior season of high school but appears to be back to full strength.  Like Perry Jones, Miller is an all-around threat who actually is at his best when playing on the wing.

With two likely NBA Draft lottery picks on the roster, seniors Quincy Acy and Anthony Jones are sort of the forgotten players on this team.  Acy is an under-sized though physical and athletic power forward who consistently amazes with highlight reel dunks.  Anthony Jones is insanely lanky, can shoot the ball from deep, and is yet another versatile forward who can play any spot in the frountcourt.  He has started every game the past two seasons but might be forced to the bench this year due to all the talent up-front.

J’Mison Morgan provides a physical presence off the bench when Baylor needs a big body down low.  Fred Ellis is another experienced forward giving Drew even more options in the frontcourt.  Cory Jefferson who redshirted last season, figures to be the odd man out of the rotation.

The biggest Achilles heel last season was at the point guard position.  Returning starter A.J. Walton turned the ball way too often and will compete for minutes with reigning JUCO Player of the Year Pierre Jackson and Cal transfer Gary Franklin who becomes eligible after the first semester.  Drew will likely ride the hot hand on a nightly basis though it appears Walton will begin the season in the starting line-up.  Walton and Jackson can both really get after it on the defensive end which will help Baylor get transition opportunities where they thrive.

After sitting out last season, Brady Heslip provides a sharpshooter to help replace what the Bears lose from LaceDarius Dunn.  Deuce Bello is a crazy athletic wing who excels off the bounce and in the open floor.  He figures to see plenty of playing time off the bench.

There is no question that Baylor possesses an extraordinary amount of talent.  The length and depth of their frontcourt will cause problems for opposing offenses in that 2-3 zone.  If Drew can keep his forwards happy by spreading the playing time out and the new faces at guard make the impact that many expect them to; the Bears will once again be knocking on the door of a trip to the Final Four.

Player to Watch: Perry Jones III
The Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, Jones III saw his once soaring NBA Draft stock take a major hit as last season progressed.  Still, he would have been a top ten pick in last year’s draft but instead chose to return to Baylor, shocking those who figured he was a for sure one-and-done.  He will be looking for redemption this season; both in proving his ability and helping Baylor get back to the NCAA Tournament.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/15 vs. San Diego State
12/4 at Northwestern
12/17 at BYU
12/22 vs. St. Mary’s (Las Vegas Classic)
12/23 vs. West Virginia (Las Vegas Classic)

OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#8 Pitt Panthers
#9 Vanderbilt Commodores
#10 Memphis Tigers
#11 Florida Gators
#12 Xavier Musketeers
#13 Louisville Cardinals
#14 Arizona Wildcats
#15 Wisconsin Badgers
#16 Alabama Crimson Tide
#17 Gonzaga Bulldogs
#18 Marquette Golden Eagles
#19 Texas A&M Aggies
#20 Michigan Wolverines
#21 New Mexico Lobos
#22 Temple Owls
#23 Cincinnati Bearcats
#24 Kansas Jayhawks
#25 UNLV Rebels
#26 Washington Huskies
#27 UCLA Bruins
#28 Butler Bulldogs
#29 Missouri Tigers
#30 Texas Longhorns
#31 Villanova Wildcats
#32 Michigan State Spartans
#33 Florida State Seminoles
#34 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#35 Harvard Crimson
#36 Illinois Fighting Illini
#37 Oregon Ducks
#38 Wichita State Shockers
#39 Cal Golden Bears
#40 Belmont Bruins
#41 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#42 Saint Mary’s Gaels
#43 Purdue Boilermakers
#44 BYU Cougars
#45 Kansas State Wildcats
#46 West Virginia Mountaineers
#47 Virginia Cavaliers
#48 George Mason Patriots
#49 Old Dominion Monarchs
#50 VCU Rams
#51 Kent State Golden Flashes
#52 Arkansas Razorbacks
#53 St. John’s Red Storm
#54 Northwestern Wildcats
#55 Georgetown Hoyas
#56 Miami Hurricanes
#57 Nevada Wolfpack
#58 Detroit Titans
#59 UCF Knights
#60 Long Beach State 49ers
#61 Virginia Tech Hokies
#62 Clemson Tigers
#63 New Mexico State Aggies
#64 Tennessee Volunteers
#65 Iona Gaels
#66 Murray State Racers
#67 N.C. State Wolfpack
#68 Fairfield Stags
#69 George Washingon Colonials
#70 Indiana State Sycamores
#71 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#72 Indiana Hoosiers
#73 UAB Blazers
#74 Iowa State Cyclones
#75 Creighton Bluejays
#76 USC Trojans
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs
#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

 

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