Baylor's slim hopes of making a late run at an NCAA tournament berth took a major hit on Wednesday even before the Bears began Big 12 tournament play.
According to KEYE-TV in Austin, highly touted freshman Perry Jones will not play in Wednesday night's first-round game against Oklahoma. Jason King of Yahoo! Sports confirmed that and also reported that Jones has been suspended for the remainder of the season by the NCAA for allegedly accepting improper benefits.
Jones, a potential top-five pick in this summer's NBA draft, is averaging 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season. Baylor will appeal the 6-foot-11 freshman's suspension, though it may not matter since the Bears' NCAA tournament hopes likely hinge on a deep Big 12 tournament run.
Despite beginning the season amid talk of a potential Big 12 title or a return to the Elite Eight this season, Baylor would almost certainly miss the NCAA tournament if the season ended today.
Baylor squandered all three of its chances at marquee wins in the nonleague season, falling to Gonzaga, Florida State and Washington State. Needing a strong Big 12 performance to make up for those shortcomings, the Bears instead staggered to a 7-9 finish, losing four of five to close the regular season.
Baylor's lone hope entering the Big 12 tournament was that the tandem of LaceDarius Dunn and Jones could carry the team to the conference title game. Now, with one half of that duo apparently sidelined, that looks even more unlikely.