By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer
Redshirting has been an integral part of the fabric of Baylor basketball under head coach Scott Drew. Seven of the Bears’ 15-man roster have redshirted during their time at Baylor, including star guards Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague.
Redshirt players have been key to Baylor’s success in basketball and this season will be no different. Freshman forward Jordan Turner, sophomore forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and sophomore guard Adam Flagler will be eligible to play for Baylor this season after redshirting last year.
“It gives them an opportunity to focus on their games without worrying about playing,” Drew said in an interview with the Waco Tribune-Herald last April. “They’ve got a good chance to work on their craft. Going against their fellow teammates makes them better, and taking on different roles on the scout team will help.”
During a press conference Wednesday, Drew raved about the trio’s performances and growth during fall practice, saying all three were “outstanding young men.”
Drew said Tchamwa Tchatchoua, who transferred from UNLV last season, was one of the hardest-working players on the team and someone who could potentially replace last year’s starting center Freddie Gillespie.
“We call him ‘everyday John’,” Drew said. “Unbelievable work ethic. One of our strongest players on the team with a great motor. Definitely can rebound and can be an elite college rebounder.”
Tchamwa Tchatchoua has impressed his teammates as well. Teague said that Tchamwa Tchatchoua’s size and high work ethic will help improve Baylor’s presence in the paint.
“He’s going to bring a high-motor to our team,” Teague said. “He’s really active on the defensive end and offensive end.”
Then there’s Flagler, who transferred from Presbyterian last season, where he averaged 15.9 points per game and was named Big South Conference Freshman of the Year.
Drew said that Flagler greatly benefited from his redshirt year, where he constantly played against Baylor’s elite guards, Jared Butler, Teague and Mitchell.
“Adam is somebody who really benefited from going against the guards each and every day last year,” Drew said. “Physically and athletically, he’s a two-way guy that can get his own shot and can shoot the three. Defensively, one of our better defenders on the team, so a well-rounded player.”
While both Flagler and Tchamwa Tchatchoua have both played college minutes at other universities, Turner has not. Drew said that Turner benefited the most from his redshirt year, as it allowed him to become acclimated with the physicality and speed of the college game.
“It was a great year for him to adjust to college and it was also really beneficial being able to spend that time with our strength coach,” Drew said. “Most freshman, when they come in, the thing that they have to improve on the most is the physical part of things, and Jordan, being a longer, leaner guy, definitely benefited from that.”
The improvements that Turner made during his freshman year also did not go unnoticed. Teague said that Turner was the “most improved player” over the summer.
Teague also went through the redshirting process and said it helped him improve as a basketball player.
“I felt like it gave me the opportunity to improve my game,” Teague said. “It’s just a lot of time spent in the gym.”
Flagler, Tchamwa Tchatchoua and Turner add to already deep Baylor team, but with the uncertainty of what the season will look like due to COVID-19, Drew noted that depth will be more important than ever.
Baylor will begin its season in only three weeks on Nov. 25 in the Empire Classic in Uncasville, Conn.