Baylor Basketball: 4 Bears Who Will Shine in 2012

Eric HampfordContributor IIIApril 3, 2012

Baylor Basketball: 4 Bears Who Will Shine in 2012

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    Although a very talented Baylor Bears team will most likely be losing both sophomore Perry Jones III and freshman Quincy Miller to the 2012 NBA Draft, the cupboard is far from empty in Waco. Specifically, there are four players who will be breakout stars for the 2012-2013 team which will be looking to continue the success of the now elite program.

    Baylor recently finished one of the most successful seasons in school history, bowing out of the NCAA tournament in the Elite Eight to the eventual national champions, the Kentucky Wildcats. They finished the season with a 30-8 record while being considered one of the best, not to mention most athletic, teams in the country all season long.

    It will be hard for the 2012-2013 version of the Bears to top what this season's squad did, but if they do, it will be because of these four players, each destined for breakout seasons.

4. Deuce Bello

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    Perhaps the most athletic player in all of America, freshman Deuce Bello will be ready to break out as a sophomore. Although he had a very modest freshman season in Waco, averaging only 3.3 points per game, it was very easy to see the potential he possesses.

    The 6'4", 185-pound shooting guard had his best game of the season in the Bears' regular season finale against the Missouri Tigers, where he scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds before fouling out. If the elite athlete can improve his shooting in the offseason, there is no reason why he can't become one of the Bears' top-four scorers next season.

3. Brady Heslip

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    Brady Heslip flew under the radar all season long for Baylor. While PJ3, Quincy Miller, Quincy Acy and Pierre Jackson garnered most of the attention on the court, the long-range assassin quietly assembled a very solid season. Once the NCAA tournament rolled around, however, everyone knew just who the sophomore was.

    The 6'2" shooting guard single-handedly destroyed the Colorado Buffaloes in the second round of the tournament, burying nine threes on his way to 27 points. He will enter the 2012-2013 season as one of the best shooters in America, and Big 12 defenses will have all sorts of trouble trying to contain the Canada native.

2. Isaiah Austin

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    The 2012 McDonald's All-American is the next future NBA star who will be donning a Baylor Bears uniform. The 7'0" center possesses the skills of a guard while being able to score and defend against quality big men in the paint.

    He is as versatile a high school prospect as you will find. He can shoot with consistency out to at least 18 feet, dribbles like a guard and has an arsenal of post moves in the paint. While his strength is a major issue at this point, there's no denying that he will have an immediate impact for the Bears next season.

1. Pierre Jackson

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    The former junior-college star had an outstanding first season in college basketball. The 5'10" explosive point guard was named an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press, as well as being named a 2012 second-team All-Big 12 selection after averaging 13.3 points, 5.8 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.

    While he could be tempted to test the draft waters this summer, it is widely known that he would be better served to return to the college game for his senior season. If he does return, he would be a likely candidate to become an All-American and would be one of the best point guards in college basketball next season.