August 09, 2010
One of the lingering questions in the wake of Baylor's first Elite Eight appearance in six decades this past March was whether the Bears' NCAA tournament success was an aberration or the start of a trend.
The way coach Scott Drew is recruiting, it only confirms the fact that we should get used to Baylor as an annual contender.
Although Baylor lost standouts Tweety Carter, Josh Lomers and Ekpe Udoh from last season's team, the tandem of guard LaceDarius Dunn and highly touted freshman center Perry Jones should be enough to keep the Bears in contention in the Big 12. Then Drew took a huge step toward sustaining that success Monday night by securing a huge commitment from 7-footer Isaiah Austin, Rivals.com's No. 2 player in the Class of 2012 and Baylor's center of the future.
Flanked by his parents and his younger brother, Austin made his nationally televised announcement on Monday evening before the title game of the Adidas Nations tournament in Chicago. The Mansfield, Texas native chose Baylor over Texas, Kansas, Arizona and Oklahoma State among others because he liked the coaching staff, the direction of the program and the ability to play close to home.
What Baylor will get in Austin is a big man whose ball-handling and mid-range game set him apart from his peers. His back-to-the-basket game still needs refinement, but his shot-blocking, perimeter skills and ability to run the floor make him one of the top big men in his class.
Even scarier for Baylor's Big 12 foes is that the Bears are listed among the leaders for numerous uncommitted prospects in the Class of 2011. Elite forwards Quincy Miller, LeBryan Nash and Deuce Bello are all considering Baylor, as is promising point guard prospect B.J. Young.
The Bears will have to replace Dunn and perhaps Jones after this season, so it's imperative that Drew lure a strong 2011 class. If the past few years are any indication, don't bet against him.