Former Bears see action in NBA

Former Bear and current Dallas Maverick Johnathan Motley goes up for a shot against the Houston Rockets in a 105-82 loss on March 11. Courtesy of Associated Press/Richard W. Rodriguez

By Ben Everett | Sports Writer

Although Baylor men’s basketball season has come to a close, fans still have the opportunity to cheer on former Bears who play on the biggest basketball stage.

Five former Baylor players have seen playing time during the 2017-18 NBA season: Atlanta Hawks forward Taurean Prince, Utah Jazz guard/forward Royce O’Neale, Utah Jazz center Ekpe Udoh, Brooklyn Nets forward Quincy Acy and Dallas Mavericks forward Johnathan Motley.

Prince, who played at Baylor from 2012-2016, is averaging 13.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 38 percent from three-point range in his second NBA season.

Grapevine junior Josh Williams, who follows the NBA closely, said Prince has a great opportunity moving forward as part of rebuilding an Atlanta team.

“I think he’s in a good place with the Hawks as they continue their rebuild,” Williams said, “As long as Coach [Mike] Budenholzer continues to entrust him with a big portion of the team’s offense. Hopefully we will see his strong and efficient close to this season have a carryover effect into the 18-19 campaign.”

Prince has started all 71 games for the Hawks and has put up 26.8 points per game in his last five games.

O’Neale, who played at Baylor from 2013-2015, played two seasons overseas before finding a spot with the Jazz this season. O’Neale has appeared in 58 games for Utah, playing an average of 15.8 minutes per game and contributing 4.7 points per game.

Udoh also played the past two seasons overseas before being signed by Utah this year. Udoh has played in 57 games this season, serving as All-NBA center Rudy Gobert’s backup. Udoh has blocked 1.2 shots per game despite only playing 13.6 minutes per game, which is good for 16th in the NBA according to Basketball Reference.

Acy, who was drafted 37th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft, is on his fifth team in five years, serving as a veteran big man for the Brooklyn Nets. Acy has appeared in 63 games this season and puts up 5.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

Motley went undrafted in last summer’s NBA Draft, but immediately signed a Two-Way contract with the Dallas Mavericks, meaning he would split time between the Mavericks and their minor league team, the Texas Legends.

Motley has only appeared in five games for the Mavericks, but the former All-American is putting up 22.2 points and 9.7 rebounds for the Legends.

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said Motley’s play has been impressive.

“As an undrafted guy, he’s pretty much proven he should have been a first round pick,” Carlisle told Fox Sports Southwest. “I’m really pleased for him and happy with the way he’s done.”

A Baylor alum matchup occurred Thursday night in Dallas when Udoh, Royce and the rest of the Utah Jazz took on Motley and the Dallas Mavericks.

With four graduating seniors on this year’s team, Baylor fans could have a chance to cheer on more Bears in professional basketball.

Senior forward Terry Maston, who is the nephew of former NBA players Derrick and Tony Battie, said he is going to prepare for the draft with his uncles.

“I’m going to work out with some of my uncles,” Maston said. “I’m going to try to further my career as long as I can.”

The 2018 NBA Draft takes place on June 21 in Brooklyn, N.Y.