Baylor Hopes To Build Off NIT Title
Courtesy: Big12Sports.com
          Release: 11/06/2013
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By Wendell Barnhouse | wendell@big12sports.com
Big12Sports.com Correspondent


Story line
It wasn't the championship that's most-cherished, but Baylor was able to win its final game and cut down the nets like NCAA Tournament champion Louisville. The Bears became the first Big 12 team to win the NIT. This season, if they can find a suitable replacement for Pierre Jackson at point guard, the Bears could be a threat to make a deep NCAA run. The front court twin towers of senior Corey Jefferson and sophomore Isaiah Austin returns as does senior guard Brady Heslip. Junior-college transfer Kenny Chery is expected to take over for Jackson while a talented cast of newcomers should add production and depth.

Coach: Scott Drew, 178-138 in 10 seasons at Baylor, 198-149 in 11 seasons overall.
Last season: 23-24 overall, 9-9 in Big 12, 6th.
NCAA Tournament: Did not participate; won National Invitation Tournament.

Top players
Senior forward Corey Jefferson, sophomore forward Isaiah Austin, senior guard Brady Heslip, sophomore forward Rico Gathers, senior guard Gary Franklin, junior guard Kenny Chery, freshman guard/forward Ish Wainwright, junior forward Royce O'Neale.

Coach Drew says
"We return a great front court, and that makes it easier for all guard play to begin with. But in practice we've had six different people run the point at different times. So I think we have multiple people that are capable of handling the ball, distributing the ball. I think instead of maybe being so dominant with the ball in one person's hand, I think we'll share it a little bit more this year.

Notable
The Bears have five 20-win seasons in the last six years after posting only three prior to coach Scott Drew's arrival. … Senior guard Brady Heslip helped lead Canada to the semifinals of the World University Games last summer. He shot 43.5 percent from 3-point range in five contests. … Kenny Chery, 5-10 point guard, was a JUCO honorable mention All-American and will try to replace Pierre Jackson. Last season Jackson became the first player in Big 12 history to lead the league in scoring and assists. … Forward/guard Royce O'Neale, a transfer from Denver, had his waiver to be eligible this season granted by the NCAA.

Season opener
Nov. 8 vs. Colorado

Top nonconference games
Nov. 12 vs. South Carolina
Nov. 25-27 Maui Invitational
Dec. 6 vs. Kentucky (SEC-Big 12 Challenge)

Conference opener
Jan. 7 at Iowa State

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