By Tyler Alley
The Bears may not have much bulk on the frontcourt, but they certainly are talented.
Baylor basketball fans everywhere breathed a sigh of relief when sophomore forward Perry Jones III decided to return to Baylor rather than going pro, despite his high draft projections and controversial NCAA suspension.
“Coaches love freshmen because they do become sophomores,” head coach Scott Drew said. “Usually when they become sophomores they’re more consistent in everything they do. Freshmen tend to have a lot more ups and downs, highs and lows. That sophomore year they really mature a lot and know what to expect, know how hard to practice, how to prepare themselves. Hopefully he’ll take another step forward from last year.”
Jones III, 13th in scoring last season in the Big 12 with 13.9 point per game, is only the highlight of an athletic group that, unlike the backcourt, is returning much of its unit from last year. Jones III ranked ninth with 7.2 rebounds per game.
Senior forward Quincy Acy looks to be the leader of the unit with his three years of experience.
“I feel I really didn’t do a good job last year at all times,” Acy said of being a leader. “I could have done a better job. This year I’m really focused on leading. That’s my main focus this year, on and off the court, everything I do, just being that vocal guy, being a role model as well as a teammate.”
Acy provides a major presence down low for the Bears. He ranked fifth in the Big 12 with 7.6 rebounds per game and fourth in blocks per game with 1.45 last season. Acy also had 12.9 points per game last season, giving the Bears a boost on offense and defense.
Jones III said Acy has been working to improve multiple aspects of his game.
“He’s still a monster, becoming more of a beast on the inside,” Jones III said. “He’s a lot stronger. He’s even been working on his footwork, so he’s definitely a lot quicker now. He’s been working on his hook shot, so he’s been working on different forms besides just dunking. He’s been working on skills to get better. That’s something we need.”
Drew recruited one of the top high school players in the nation in Quincy Miller. Miller was ranked in the top 10 of multiple scouting websites, and Drew, along with many players, have said he is quickly becoming a vocal leader.
“Quincy’s somebody who it doesn’t take long to notice him,” Drew said. “He’s very vocal for a freshman, really does a great job communicating and talking on the court. Some players come in highly touted and it takes them some time to get acclimated to college basketball and playing at a different level. Quincy Miller is not one of those.”
Another big player returning for the Bears is senior forward Anthony Jones. Jones is coming off his best shooting season yet, averaging 8.5 points per game with a 51.7 percent field goal percentage.
“Anthony Jones is a lot stronger going to the glass now,” Jones III said. “He’s not going to just settle for jump shots. But also his 3-point shooting has gotten a lot better and has increased. He’s definitely been working on that all during the summer and preseason.”