Last season, the Baylor Bears made the biggest run in their program's history, making it to the Elite 8 only to fall to the eventual champion D*ke Bl*e Dev*ls (cough). After losing Ekpe Udoh, Tweety Carter, and Josh Lomers to the draft, you would think the upstart program would be primed for a fall.
You would be incorrect.
The return of 2-guard LaceDarius Dunn will pay off big time, as will another year of Quincy Acy and A.J. Walton, along with the transfer of underperforming UCLA big man J'Mison Morgan. But who is everybody wetting their pants over, leading off their cryogenically early mock drafts with, and busting out the Tootsie Roll even fifteen years removed from popularity?
Perry Jones. WHO?!
Ninth on Rivals Top 100 High School prospects list, Perry brings his 6'11, 220 pound frame to Waco with a ton of hype surrounding him. A shooting guard with Chris Bosh's body, PJ has the best pro potential of any human in the 2010 class. An unconscious athlete with capable handles and a beautiful jump shot that will improve with repetition, Perry has Baylor fans thinking Final Four again.
Due to his insane height advantage over other wing players, he hasn't had to worry about anybody blocking his shot at the prep level. Even still, his release point is high enough where it could get by against most NBA defenders. To take that next step, he's going to need to quicken his release. Getting off the ground and letting the ball fly out of his hands are what separated Kevin Durant from other tremendous freshman shooters. He doesn't have the same touch as KD right now, but he's more athletic and much stronger than Durant was as a freshman at Texas. Kevin also had a two inch wingspan advantage, with Perry measuring out to a 7' 2.5" although he could still, unfathomable as it is, grow more.
His motivation has been questioned, displaying lackluster effort on the defensive end as well as on the glass. Scott Drew goes to a four wing lineup often, so he'll be counted on to rebound a fair amount at the 4 spot. Let's speculate where Jones fits off the bat.
PG: A.J. Walton - Soph.
SG: LaceDarius Dunn - Sr.
SF: Perry Jones - Fr.
PF: Quincy Acy - Jr.
C: J'Mison Morgan - Jr.
Due to Morgan's eligibility, I suspect he'll step in for Udoh right away, but it wouldn't surprise me to see some combination of Anthony Jones, Cory Jefferson and Quincy Acy at the 5-spot for some period of time while Morgan adjusts. It's also unknown how raw guys like Nolan Dennis and Stargell Love (if he signs) will contribute for Drew. Due to the inexperience of A.J. Walton running the point, Dunn will take a lot of the ball-handling duties despite his suspect distribution and shot selection. I'd like to see four guys spreading the floor on the wings with Acy running from block to block while the slashers look for Dunn on the wing or Q down low.
There's really no one in the Big 12 that can capably defend a player of Perry's size and quickness so I have no doubts that he will do well on the offensive end. Something like 14 and 7 seems reasonable. Will he dominate? I'd be more comfortable if he had a capable point guard to let him work off the ball but I don't have enough faith in Walton or any of the other guys Drew could put back there to confidently say he'll be up for POY honors. What I'm more worried about is defense. Quincy Acy and J'Mison Morgan should be able to hold down the bigger players (KU's Marcus and Markieff Morris, KSU's Wally Judge and Curtis Kelly) but against quick, slashing three's, I think Perry will have a tough time staying out of foul trouble. He's so long that if Nathan Walkup makes a move and Jones stays with it and contends, he'll get called for a foul simply for being big and staying tight on him. It'll be interesting to see how Drew handles him and how the Big 12 refs respond to the athletic tools he brings to the table.
Best case scenario we're looking at something capable of growing into a Tracy McGrady or Kevin Garnett. Worst case, he's Jonathan Bender or Gerald Green. Barring a complete train wreck of a season, he's a top ten pick next June regardless. I'm just excited to watch the show.