WACO, Texas —
Baylor is moving forward without most of its Ps and Qs.
Coming off a school-record 30 victories last season, the 19th-ranked Bears go into this year without forwards Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller, who both left Baylor early for the NBA. Also gone is big man Quincy Acy, a heart-and-soul leader during his four seasons who was also drafted.
The Bears still have senior point guard Pierre Jackson, the Big 12 preseason player of the year.
"He's really improved and focused on his leadership, and being more vocal in practice,'' coach Scott Drew said.
Despite all the changes in the frontcourt, including two other post players who graduated, the Bears are still considered one of the Big 12's top teams. They were picked second in a preseason vote by coaches behind perennial Big 12 champ and seventh-ranked Kansas.
Jackson is among five guards back, including 3-pointer shooter and starter Brady Heslip. A.J. Walton has started 52 games his first three seasons, while Deuce Bello and Gary Franklin were key contributors off the bench in their first seasons at Baylor.
"As far as our team goes, experience in the back court, which is a little bit different,'' said Drew, entered his 10th season at Baylor. "In the last few years, we've been a taller team and more experienced on the front line. But when you lose three players to the NBA and return a lot of people in the back court, it kind of changes some of the things that you do.''
That doesn't mean the Bears will be lacking for quality big men. They are just young, except for junior Cory Jefferson and senior J'mison Morgan, who sat out last season after starting 14 of the 31 games in 2010-11.
Their starting center will be 7-foot-1, 220-pound freshman Isaiah Austin, who was one of the nation's top-ranked recruits after playing at Grace Prep in Arlington.
"He brings a lot of height, a lot of length and a great skill set. The biggest thing when you look at him right now is you know he can get stronger,'' Drew said. "At the same time offensively, because he can shoot 3s and handle the ball, he really stretches the defense and makes it tough to guard a big guy like that. ... That versatility makes him special.''
Other front-court freshmen are 6-8 Rico Gathers, 6-11 Chad Rykhoek and 6-7 Taurean Prince.
Acy, Fred Ellis and Anthony Jones left as the winningest senior class in Baylor history, after the Bears won 100 games the past four seasons.
That included a school-record 28 wins in 2009-10, before that mark was surpassed last season. They twice made it to an NCAA regional final before losing to the eventual national champion, Duke in 2010 and Kentucky last season.
Baylor had five players average in double-figure scoring last year, led by Jackson's 13.8 points a game. But with the next three leading scorers from last year now in the NBA and all the youngsters now around him, Jackson is sure to get more attention from opposing teams.
"He's used to scoring. I think he'll be focused on more defensively and offensively. Everybody will focus their game plan around him versus last year,'' Drew said. "So as we all know, the expectations for him and the focal point, things are going to be tougher for him. At the same time, he's improved his game and is excited for that challenge.''
The Bears open the season at home Nov. 9, a late afternoon game on a Friday against Lehigh after the No. 1-ranked and defending national champion Lady Bears play their opener earlier that day at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor has five games the first 10 days of the season, and play again before going to Kentucky on Dec. 1.
"It's a great opportunity for us,'' Drew said. "This year could be harder than last year's non-conference schedule. We play some real tough road games, true road games like at Gonzaga, at Kentucky. That gets us ready for the Big 12.''
WACO, Texas —
Baylor is moving forward without most of its Ps and Qs.
All the hours and hard work of keeping the Claremore Zebra athletes injury-free in order to reach their dreams at the highest level helped graduate Averey Brace fulfill a huge accomplishment in her athletic training career.
Brace, a recent 2013 graduate of Claremore High School, received All-State honors from the Oklahoma Coaches Association earlier this month for her three-year commitment to the Claremore High School athletic training program.
Sign up now for OSU Baseball Camp
Oklahoma State Baseball will be holding a pair of camps in June for players in grades 1-8, and registration is now open.
Session I of the camp is June 17-19, with Session II set for June 24-26, and cost for each camp is $200. Camp runs from 9 a.m.-noon each day.
Lady Zebra volleyball camp set for May 20
The Claremore Lady Zebra volleyball camp will take place on May 20-23 at the Claremore High School gymnasium.
Under the direction of Lady Zebra head coach Lindsey Renfroe, campers will receive instruction in fundamentals — passing, setting, hitting and serving.
Green Country All-Star Games start May 23 in Catoosa
Area senior all-star athletes from 21 schools in northeastern Oklahoma will lace up their high tops, hoist their bats and dust off their pom-poms in preparation for the 2013 Green Country All-Star Games held May 23-24 in Catoosa.
SEC BASEBALL: Auburn blanks No. 13 Arkansas, 3-0
Conner Kendrick and Terrance Dedrick combined on a five-hit shutout as Auburn defeated No. 13 Arkansas, 3-0, in the series opener on Thursday night at Plainsman Park.
Arkansas drops to 34-18 overall and 17-10 in Southeastern Conference play, while Auburn is now 32-21 and 12-16 in league play.
GOLF: Bradley gets course-record 60 at Byron Nelson
Keegan Bradley had no thoughts of a course record, or the possibility of a 59, after consecutive bogeys in the middle of his opening round at the Byron Nelson Championship.
Until his 136-yard wedge shot on his final hole Thursday.
“It was going right at it. (A 59) crossed my mind for a second, and it would be unbelievable if I buried this,” Bradley said. “But I had 3 feet to shoot 60. I was actually very nervous, uncomfortable over it and thank God I made it.”
Cowboys rock Mountaineers, 7-4
Oklahoma State showcased its offensive ability in its series opener against West Virginia on Thursday at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
Whether it’s small ball or the long ball — both of which came into effect — the 16th-ranked Cowboys are proving they can find a way to win here late in the season with a 7-4 mauling of the Mountaineers.
OU baseball closes out regular season play at K-State
Moods were light as Oklahoma boarded a bus for Manhattan, Kan., Thursday afternoon. What they’ll be like by Sunday depends on what transpires over the next three games.
The Sooners’ season hinges on the outcome.
Westbrook's injury hinders Thunder's playoff run
The way Kevin Martin describes it, the Oklahoma City Thunder lost the “vision” of a potential championship run the morning they learned All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook would be out for the rest of the postseason.
NSU women's golf in 8th place at NCAA Division II Championship
The Northeastern State women’s golf team sits in eighth place after Thursday’s second round of the 2013 NCAA Division II Championships on the par-72, 6,228-yard Legends Course at LPGA International.
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