Texas Southern-Baylor Preview

Baylor will have to get through the first five games of the

season without sophomore standout Perry Jones.

The good news for coach Scott Drew and the 12th-ranked Bears is

that Jones, the Big 12 preseason player of the year, is even back

at all.

They are more than willing to wait for the 6-foot-11 forward to

complete an NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits before

he got to Baylor. After all, he was expected to become Baylor’s

first one-and-done player, a potential lottery pick who instead

decided to stay in school.

“Everybody is excited to have Perry back because he’s a good

player, but even more excited because he’s a great teammate and

person,” Drew said. “Every day you just love being around the guy.

He never has a bad day. Always makes people feel better. Great

teammate.”

Even after losing Big 12 career scoring leader LaceDarius Dunn

and failing to make the NCAA tournament, or even the NIT last

season with an 18-13 record, the Bears now are the preseason pick

to finish third in the Big 12 behind league co-favorites Kansas and

Texas A&M.

There can be such lofty expectations for Baylor because four

starters are back heading into Friday’s opener against visiting

Texas Southern.

Jones averaged 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds a game last season

while making 55 percent of his shots. The other returning starters

are 6-7 forward Quincy Acy (12.4, 7.6), 6-10 forward Anthony Jones

and guard A.J. Walton.

“Excited about the potential of our team,” Drew said.

“Definitely going into the season I feel it’s the deepest team

we’ve had.”

Among the newcomers is another big Quincy and four new

guards.

Quincy Miller is a top prospect from Chicago, even though the

6-foot-9 power forward is coming back from a torn ACL during his

senior season in high school.

“Quincy Miller provides a skill set that’s rare for a person his

size … can handle the ball and shoot it,” Drew said. “I know he’s

fit in well in practices and I think he’s recovered well from his

surgery, and I think people are going to be excited to watch

him.”

The new guards include prep standout Deuce Bello and Pierre

Jackson, a top junior college player last season. Transfers Brady

Heslip (Boston College) and Gary Franklin (California) both will

make their Bears debuts as sophomores, though Franklin will have to

wait until after the fall semester.

Perry Jones missed the Bears’ opening and only game in the Big

12 tournament last March after the NCAA upheld a six-game

suspension. That tournament game counted as part of his

suspension.

Jones was also ordered to repay at least $700, including a trip

to California in August 2010 to attend an NFL preseason game before

he began classes at Baylor. The NCAA said Jones’ trip with his AAU

coach was provided by an unidentified NFL player, and that the NFL

player also provided Jones’ parents with three separate 15-day

loans, all of which were repaid.

While he can still practice with the team, Jones will have to

wait until Nov. 29 against Prairie View to make his season

debut.

In the meantime, Baylor might not want to take the Tigers

(19-13) too lightly. Texas Southern won the Southwestern Athletic

Conference regular season title by four games last season,

finishing 16-2 before losing in the league tournament

semifinals.

The Tigers played the Bears tough Jan. 2, losing 68-60 as Dunn

led the way for Baylor with 17 points.

Travele Jones had a game-high 21 points for Texas Southern in

that game, but he’s gone, as are forward Kevin Galloway and guard

Harrison Smith.

That leaves Lawrence Johnson-Danner (13.1 points per game) as

the only one of the Tigers’ top four scorers that’s back – a reason

Texas Southern was picked to finish fourth in the SWAC preseason

coaches’ poll.

Baylor leads the all-time series 6-0.