Bears have winning combo this seasonNov. 11, 1998
BY ANDREW WILSON
AND MATT KUZMA
and Sports Editor
After finishing only 8-8 in the Big 12 Conference and losing first-round NBA draft-pick Brian Skinner, the Baylor men's basketball team is not getting much respect from some news publications. The Sporting News, CNNSI, and the Dallas Morning News all pick the Bears to place 11th or 12th in the Big 12.
While the Bears have lost their top three scorers, as well as their leading rebounder, three-point shooter and passer, is it time to write them off? Hardly.
Baylor enters the 1998-99 season with what could quite possibly be its biggest, most athletic team ever, averaging 6-feet 6-inches and 208 pounds. Led by returning juniors Jamie Kendrick and Leon Morris, as well as junior college transfer Tevis Stukes, the Bears will play much more pressure defense and a motion offense.
One thing helping the Bears this season will be their schedule. Baylor faces just two decent non-conference opponents, Creighton University and Marquette University. The easy schedule, though still not set in stone, should help to solidify the Baylor lineup.
Point guardTevis Stukes, who averaged 27 points, six assists, three rebounds, and two steals last season for Independence, Kansas Community College, is the hands-down favorite to take Patrick Hunter's spot as the Bears' floor leader. The 5-foot-10-inch Stukes will be expected to pick up much of the scoring for Baylor. He will be backed up by 6-foot-3-inch junior B.J. Sellers, who played in 17 games last season, starting three of them.
Shooting GuardDavid Jones will likely start at off-guard for the Bears this season. The 6-foot-6-inch junior from Killeen will be Baylor's best three-point shooter and brings good size and defensive play on the perimeter. Redshirt freshman Marcus Golson should also get playing time along with true freshman Robert Thornton.
Small forward Leon 'Brick' Morris, a 6-foot 6-inch junior from Houston, is the Bears' top returning scorer, averaging 11.9 points per game last season in 21 starts. Morris has the experience of being a starter over the last two seasons. Senior Jeff Gipson could also see playing time at this position.
Power forwardJaime Kendrick, a 6-foot-8-inch junior from Troup, will probably start here, but may also play at the small forward position if the Bears go big. Kendrick is probably the team's best athlete and will be looked to for scoring punch and leadership. This is the team's deepest position, with seniors Rahsaan Jones and Gabe Ramirez playing a large role. Jones is the team's best leaper and is looking to return to his form of two years ago after twice tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.
Center 6-foot-7-inch senior Kish Lewis will get the starting nod in the post. He is a ferocious rebounder and has greatly improved his offensive arsenal over the summer. The Colorado State University transfer played in 18 games for the Bears last season, averaging 5.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest. 6-foot-11-inch junior Ben Echols will also get extensive playing time after sitting out last season as a transfer. Baylor should be deep at this position, with 6-foot-10-inch true freshman Steven Othoro and 7-foot-3-inch freshman John Flippen getting playing time if head Coach Harry Miller decides not to redshirt them for the season.
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