By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer
Baylor men’s basketball is in the midst of a golden age under Scott Drew.
Before Drew’s arrival in 2003, the program had only made the NCAA tournament four times in over 50 years. Since then, Drew has led the Bears to eight NCAA tournament appearances and two Elite Eight appearances.
Drew’s efforts have placed Baylor on the edge of the coveted ‘blue blood’ status in men’s college basketball and it’s not unreasonable to say that Baylor could make the jump in the next decade.
The term “blue blood” refers to a select number of college basketball programs that have consistently excelled over an extended period of time.
The current blue bloods include, in my opinion, Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, UCLA, Indiana and Villanova. This list should tell you something about the criteria for being a blue blood.
Each team has at least three national titles and has been dominant for a minimum of two decades, if not more.
Obviously, Baylor does not yet meet this criterion as it lacks both national titles and the dominance needed to be considered a blue blood program. However, the Bears are much closer than they might appear.
Baylor has been one of the most consistent teams in the last decade, winning 20 games or more in eight seasons and appearing in seven NCAA tournaments. They have also been fairly successful during the postseason, making the Sweet Sixteen four times and the Elite Eight twice.
And while many of the current blue blood programs have been long established as college basketball royalty, Villanova should give Baylor hope that they too can make the jump.
The Wildcats, under head coach Jay Wright’s leadership, made their case over the span of the 2010s, winning two titles. It is certainly not out of the realm of possibility that Baylor can do the same during the 2020s.
The next decade will be crucial in Baylor’s chase to be regarded as one of the top programs in college basketball and so far, things are looking good for the Bears.
Baylor began the decade with a historic 23-game winning streak and a long stay at the top spot in the polls. Had the NCAA tournament not been canceled, Baylor would have been a number one seed and would have had a very good chance at adding to its Elite Eight total and possibly progressing further.
Drew, who has always been a solid recruiter, has kicked it into another gear in terms of recruiting in that area. The commitments of five-star Kendall Brown alongside Jeremy Sochan and Langston Love has catapulted Baylor to the top of many recruiting rankings for the class of 2021.
Baylor has also made a commitment to upgrading its basketball facilities, with plans for a new fieldhouse costing 105 million dollars to be built in the near future. This will give Baylor one of the best basketball facilities and home-court advantages in the nation.
While all of these are positives for Baylor’s case to become college basketball’s next blue blood, there is still a long way to go.
The Bears must win both the Big 12 and the NCAA tournament multiple times over the next decade if they’re going to have a serious case for becoming a blue blood.
This is easier said than done, but with the momentum that the program currently has behind it, it is not unreasonable.
Drew was able to take one of the worst Power Five college basketball programs and turn it into one of the most consistent teams in the span of a decade and a half. If Drew can continue this upward trajectory, Baylor has a great chance at entering college basketball royalty.