By Francesca Maietta | Reporter
Baylor men’s basketball held its first practice Wednesday afternoon in anticipation of the 2018-19 season.
The Bears are going through some big changes this season, with the loss of guard Manu Lecomte, forward Terry Maston, center Jo Lual-Acuil, Jr. and forward Nuni Omot to graduation. That leaves only three returning scholarship players that played last year and a bunch of new guys added to the team, including four freshmen.
Senior point guard Jake Lindsey will also not be on the floor this year as he is taking a medical redshirt while he recovers from hip surgery. Head coach Scott Drew looks forward to Lindsey taking on a somewhat of a coaching role to the team this season during his recovery.
“He always knew when and where the ball needed to be, what defense. If someone didn’t know a play he would be able to say, ‘You’re over here,’” Drew said. “That experience and just everything he has brought us as far as leadership goes will definitely be missed on the court. He’s a Baylor guy. He loves Baylor and each and every day he’s trying to help make sure his team is ready to go so that we can be successful this year.”
Lindsey said he is feeling optimistic about what he can contribute to his team despite not being on the floor.
“Obviously it’s hard watching some days,” Lindsey said. “But just bringing energy and knowledge. There are ups and downs and I’ve been through a lot of that before mentally and physically, so helping those guys out when you win a game and lose a game, trying to keep them up and down at the same time, just really helping them out.”
The Bears add freshman forward Matthew Mayer, freshman center Flo Thamba and freshman guard Jared Butler as well as three eligible transfers in junio guard Darius Allen, junior guard Devonte Bandoo and senior guard Makai Mason. Junior guard MaCio Teague and sophomore guard Davion Mitchell will sit out the 2018-19 season after transferring from UNC Asheville and Auburn, respectively. Drew said he is hopeful about the new additions to the team regardless of their inexperience.
“Definitely feeling good about the potential of this group,” Drew said. “I know that each and every day we’re going to get better. We’ll get better throughout the year than we are at the beginning of the year, but we have a lot of good pieces. I’m excited about seeing how they come together and just how quickly we can come together.”
A 2018 4-star point guard and former Alabama commit, Butler is one of the new players on the team and Drew said he is very excited to have him at his disposal this season.
“Jared [Butler] is somebody who comes from a great program,” Drew said. “He is a great competitor and a great athlete. He’s somebody who can run the floor, sees the floor really well and has good size and strength—all the intangibles you would want from a player.”
Senior guard King McClure says he sees himself as a leader, being one of the more experienced players on the team.
“You know we got a lot of young guys,” McClure said. “A lot of guys who have never played on this level before and they look to me as the older veteran on the squad. You can’t always look to the coach because the best teams are the player led teams, but probably my biggest role would be just me guiding the younger guys so they know what to do, how to play. Just providing my experience.”
The Bears have their first game of the season against Texas Southern at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Ferrell Center.