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Baylor missed the NCAA tournament last year, which had to be considered a major disappointment and surprise, and will lose superstar point guard Pierre Jackson going forward. Plenty of opposing fans, and perhaps even teams, will be dismissive of this Bears squad because of that combination.
However, for as valuable as Jackson was, the decisions by Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson to return to school were critical for Baylor’s chances. Jefferson had a coming out party during the NIT, and he (as well as his team) will look to carry that postseason momentum into the 2013-14 campaign.
Austin, Jefferson, Ricardo Gathers and incoming freshman Ishmail Wainright gives the Bears a formidable frontcourt that will clean up on the glass. The key to returning to the NCAA tournament and sneaking up on Kansas and Oklahoma State will be the backcourt.
If Brady Heslip finds his shooting stroke, and Kenny-Fred Cherry can fill in for Jackson, then Baylor will be scary for the Big 12’s top teams.