Sports Take: 3 questions, takeaways from Baylor men’s basketball’s season

Junior guard Jayden Nunn (2) could be the only returning starter for the Bears in 2024-25. Assoah Ndomo | Photographer

By Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer

Following a national championship in 2020-21, three straight Baylor men’s basketball seasons have concluded with an underwhelming second-round exit. Whether it be injury-riddled seasons or unthinkably slow starts, each season has found a different way to leave a lasting mark. However, the 2023-24 season will mostly be looked back on with fondness due to the close bonds on the team.

As the focus shifts to 2024-25, let’s take a look back at the biggest takeaways from the season and what questions lie ahead.

A new definition for one-and-done

Freshman phenoms guard Ja’Kobe Walter and center Yves Missi cemented themselves as NBA talent throughout the 2023-24 season. Walter, whose dedication to Baylor was unrivaled, led the team, averaging 14.5 points per game en route to the Big 12 Freshman of the Year award. But above all else, Walter showed that NCAA teams can compete with freshmen who buy into the program. The freshman grew in all facets of his game, including defense and rebounding, which were a focus.

Alongside the guard, Missi thrived in the post, racking up Big 12 Player of the Week honors in February and All-Big 12 Defensive Team recognition. Both of the two battled through dry slumps and freshman fatigue, but after a couple of tough weeks, each came away better for the struggle.

While each coach has an individual attack at roster building, head coach Scott Drew has found his niche in crafting a successful roster around veteran talent and five-star freshmen.

Lovestruck in 2024-25

In the midst of a breakout season, redshirt sophomore Langston Love saw his third consecutive collegiate season end with an injury. With his injury-riddled past, Love has still maintained a positive attitude and has been all aboard the Baylor train no matter what.

Love tore his ACL before his freshman season (2021-22), suffered an eye injury a year later and had to miss the NCAA Tournament with multiple injuries to his ankle this season.

In his 2023-24 campaign, Love tallied a career-high 11 points per game and led the team in rebounding in multiple games as well. With the flashes of excellence, the guard can expect a heightened role if he finds his way back to the court fully healthy, and he could be the missing piece that pushes the team to the Sweet 16 a year from now.

Furthermore, the experiences Love gained in a “coach role” on the bench during consecutive seasons have primed him for a big season on the court and as a top-tier leader in the locker room. A little “Love bug” hit Waco this year, but bet on the trend to catch fire in the 2024-25 season.

How will Drew replicate togetherness?

With roster turnover galore and the potential of a second straight year with just one returning starter, the question won’t be about the talent but instead how quickly they come together. Without a trip overseas, at least at the moment, the group will need another incredible offseason of work to create lifelong bonds that come close to rivaling the tight-knit group that left their heart and soul on the floor day in and day out.

Incoming freshmen VJ Edgecombe, Jason Asemota and Noah Boyed, as well as incoming freshman guard Rob Wright, all bring elite talent to the team, but their mentality will have to mirror that of the class from this year. Drew’s “Culture of Joy” has been a hit across the nation, and all of his recruits seem to be a seamless fit.

With that said, I have my questions as to how a large incoming group can master the transition as clean as this year’s group.