When one thinks of Big 12 basketball, they automatically think about a Kansas dynasty. When one thinks of the 2013-2014 Big 12 basketball conference, they think of Marcus Smart returning, giving Oklahoma State the most probable chance of destroying that impressive title streak the Jayhawks have built.
While Smart’s return gives the Cowboys an enormous boost, another Big 12 team has received exciting news about two valuable big men returning to try to crown a champion outside of Kansas and Oklahoma State.
The Baylor Bears have officially held onto junior forward Corey Jefferson who has decided to return to Waco for his senior year. Jefferson was completely overshadowed as an underclassman by fellow big men Quincy Acy and Perry Jones III. Despite playing just 4.6 minutes per game as a freshman and 10.5 minutes per game as a sophomore, Jefferson showcased his hidden talents in the 2012-2013 season by putting up 13.3 points per game and also bringing in 8.0 rebounds per game.
Jefferson is a 6-9, 210 pound forward with an NBA-ready body however Jefferson was clearly not satisfied with ending his collegiate career as part of the NIT champion Baylor Bears as he has declared that he will return to Baylor bringing much delight to the Baylor faithful, especially head coach Scott Drew.
While Jefferson returning was welcome news for the Bears, the more surprising gift is certainly the retention of the 7’1 freshman center Isaiah Austin. While Austin didn’t have a year that locked him in as a lottery pick, he was still projected to be a late first-rounder. As a freshman Austin averaged 13 points per game and was the leading rebounder bringing in 8.3 rebounds per game.
Had the Bears lost Jefferson this could easily be written off as a rebuilding year. By keeping Jefferson, Baylor will definitely be competitive in the Big 12, but by also keeping Austin for another year the Bears have become a conference title contending team.
With senior point guard Pierre Jackson departing from Waco the Bears needed some fire power to make up for the 19.8 points per game Jackson brought in. Jefferson and Austin are just what the doctor ordered for Baylor Basketball. Another offseason will do wonders for these two talented big men who will ensure that Baylor finishes near the top if not at the top of the Big 12 in the 2013-2014 NCAA basketball season.