By Max Calderone | Reporter
The Baylor men’s basketball program has built a reputation for churning out well-developed players and seeing them go on to compete at the next level.
Over the past few years, fans have seen their share of talented Bears with electric personalities take the floor for Scott Drew and company. Now, many of them are finding success in their endeavors following their college careers.
BaylorProud recently listed the four Baylor alumni who are currently playing in the NBA – Ekpe Udoh, Royce O’Neale, Quincy Acy and Taurean Prince – and documented their accomplishments. Udoh and O’Neale have teamed up in Utah and provided the Jazz with helpful minutes off the bench. Udoh has a 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio, well above the team’s average of 1.5, and O’Neale has shot close to 40 percent from the field, sitting at 39.2 percent.
Acy has found a home with the Brooklyn Nets after bouncing around the league between various teams. He’s made stops in Toronto, Sacramento, New York and Dallas before landing in Brooklyn. He is averaging six points per game and playing an average of 19.5 minutes each night.
Prince has become one of the breakout stars of the NBA this year with the Atlanta Hawks, blossoming into a starting role and shooting over 43 percent from the field. He does a little bit of everything, averaging 12.3 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game, in addition to just over two assists per game.
Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer said he has been impressed with Prince’s growth and development in just his second season as a pro.
“He’s a young player that’s growing with each night,” Budenholzer said in an article published by Peachtree Hoops, SBNation’s blog site dedicated to the Hawks. “We’re pleased with the way he’s playing.”
Class of 2017’s Johnathan Motley is close behind his peers, as he has spent the majority of his rookie year in the G-League with the Texas Legends, the Dallas Mavericks’ developmental league affiliate. Motley has averaged 21.8 points per game along with 10.7 rebounds per game in 22 games. He was named to the All-NBA G-League Showcase 2018 First Team for his efforts so far this season.
Legends head coach Bob MacKinnon praised Motley for his his intangibles and positive attitude when speaking to Mike Fisher of scout.com.
“He’s everything you want in a player,” MacKinnon said. “It’s not just the numbers, which of course everybody notices. It’s work ethic, teamwork, learning things like pick-and-roll defense. We’ve been extremely happy with his progess.”
While Motley looks to reach the pinnacle of American basketball, other Baylor alumni are finding themselves playing overseas. Lester Medford, most notable for his game-winning shot against Texas Tech in 2016, is playing in Lithuania for Nevezis. Isaiah Austin, famous for being diagnosed with Marfan syndrome and his Dream Again campaign, is set to start a new season with Champville SC in Lebanon.
Waco junior Drew Mastin has worked closely with many of the players previously mentioned as a student manager with the Baylor men’s basketball team. He said he is always proud to see them continue on at the next level and recognizes the rarity of their situations.
“It’s cool to see them doing well and having success because even for the best players nothing is guaranteed after they leave here,” Mastin said.
Gathers was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft as a tight end. He turned heads with a strong preseason, making seven receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns in two games, but was hampered by concussion symptoms that caused him to be placed on injured reserve for the 2017 season.
Wainright stayed on-campus and played the 2017 season as a tight end under Matt Rhule at Baylor. Two of his four catches went for touchdowns. He is now preparing for a potential NFL career, according to a tweet from Dec. 20.
“It’s pretty cool to see players train hard enough and completely change their bodies for a different sport,” said Austin junior Parker Huxtable. “For them to be able to make it at the next level, having played for such a short amount of time, is pretty special to watch as a fan.”
Whether it be on the hardwood or artificial turf, the Bears have been doing big things since their time in Waco. All that’s left to ask is, who’s next?