By Greg DeVries
Junior forward Cory Jefferson announced Thursday that he will be returning for another year and will not enter the NBA Draft.
After a breakout season, Jefferson was projected to be a late pick in the 2013 NBA Draft if he decided to enter.
“Everything went into this decision,” Jefferson said. “It was probably one of the biggest decisions of my life. Before this time, I’d say it was the redshirt, but that decision was a breeze compared to this one.”
During the season, Jefferson averaged 13.3 points and eight rebounds per game while shooting better than 70 percent from the free throw line.
Jefferson is known for his thunderous dunks and blocks. His athleticism and experience should prove to be valuable to the Bears next season.
“Cory is somebody, being a fifth-year senior, everybody listens [to],” head coach Scott Drew said. “They respect him. I think this is a great opportunity for him to be more vocal and really help out.”
With senior guards A.J. Walton and Pierre Jackson moving on, Jefferson and junior guard Brady Heslip will be the only returning starters on their final year of eligibility.
Junior guard Gary Franklin will be the third and final senior on next year’s Baylor basketball team.
“Being a fifth-year guy, everyone is going to look to me to be a leader whether I want to or not,” Jefferson said. “I am willing to step up and take that position. I have no problem with it.”
Heslip said that Jefferson’s presence in the middle helps open up outside shots, so he is glad to see Jefferson return for his final year.
“If they help off me, he’s going to kick it out,” Heslip said. “If not, he’s going to score.”
Jefferson has had a lot of support from Baylor fans and the community.
Some have reached out to Jefferson on Twitter asking him to stay for a senior season. When he addressed the crowd at Baylor football’s spring football game, some fans even started chanting, “One more year.”
Heslip expects Jefferson to be one of the focal points of the team next year, and that includes being awarded various preseason honors and taking on more responsibility.
“He’s going to come back next year, and he’s going to have all of the honors, the preseason honors, and stuff like that,” Heslip said. “There’s going to be a lot of pressure on him but he’ll be ready to handle it and he’ll be a force inside.”
Freshman center Isaiah Austin has yet to announce his decision to either enter the NBA Draft or return to school.
The deadline to decide is Sunday. The NBA Draft is set for June 27.
The Bears have signed four high school players that will join the team next season.
Ishmail Wainright, a four-star small forward, and Dominic Woodson, a four-star center, highlight the recruiting class.
Johnathan Motleym a power forward from Houston, is the final high school senior that has put pen to paper and agreed to play at Baylor.
The Bears have also signed sophomore point guard Kenny Chery, a junior college transfer from State Fair Community College in Canada.