Good News Bears: Baylor receives conference honors, chance to play on global stage

Jared Butler goes for a layup in an early 2020 conference game against TCU at the Ferrell Center. Butler was named Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year Wednesday. Lariat File Photo

By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer

It was a big news week for Baylor basketball, as several important developments for the program were announced in the past few days.

The Bears released a tentative schedule Monday, confirming dates for its marquee matchup against Gonzaga, which will be Dec. 5, and the start of Big 12 conference play, which will be coming unusually early this year, on Dec. 13 against Texas in Waco.

“You’re seeing more quality matchups this year than you’ve probably seen before,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said in a press conference Wednesday. “It’s great for college basketball and I know players always want to play against the best.”

Junior guard Jared Butler was named the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Preseason Player of the Year on Wednesday and was also a unanimous selection to the All-Big 12 First Team.

Butler said while he likes the recognition, he and the team are focused on bigger things than individual rewards.

“Do we like the recognition? Yeah. Does it mean a whole lot or carry a lot of weight? I don’t think so,” Butler said. “It’s just some things written down on paper that don’t mean a whole lot. That’s where it stands for me and for the rest of the team.”

Another big piece of news for the Bears is the announcement of Baylor’s selection to represent the USA at the 2021 University Games in Chengdu, China. Previous representatives include Kansas in 2015, Purdue in 2017 and Clemson in 2019.

“We are extremely blessed to represent the United States on a global stage,” Baylor vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics Mack Rhoades said. “This is an incredible compliment to the program Scott Drew and his staff have built, and we take tremendous pride in representing the United States.”

“That’s a tremendous honor,” Drew added. “Very few get selected to represent the United States and get a chance to play for a gold medal.”

Drew also said the international trip, which will take place next year from Aug. 28-29, 2021, will give Baylor a step up, as the competition allows for better team bonding and chemistry.

“It is a big advantage,” Drew said. “The teams that like one another play together better and usually what fosters that is playing with one another. Especially when you’re in a different country, you are able to focus on each other and the team.”

Currently, Baylor will open its season on Nov. 25 in the 2k Empire Classic. The opponent is still to be determined.