IRVING, Texas – Baylor men’s basketball has been picked to finish fifth in the 2018 Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll. The Bears received 47 points, trailing Kansas (81), West Virginia (71), TCU (64) and Texas (49).
This marks the seventh time in the last eight seasons that the Bears have been projected to finish in the top half of the league. The Bears were also picked fifth in each of the previous two seasons, and BU ended last season tied for second place in the Big 12 standings with a 12-6 record.
Kansas was chosen as the preseason favorite with nine first-place votes totaling 81 points. They were followed by West Virginia with one first-place vote and 71 points, TCU (64), Texas (49), Baylor (47), Oklahoma (43), Texas Tech (36), Kansas State (27), Iowa State (22) and Oklahoma State (10).
Baylor earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, marking a fourth consecutive season with a No. 6 or better seed in March Madness. BU is one of only eight programs nationally to earn a top-6 seed in every NCAA Tournament since 2014, joining Arizona, Duke, Iowa State, Kansas, North Carolina, Villanova and Virginia.
Head coach Scott Drew enters his 15th season at Baylor in 2017-18. He holds a 297-191 career record over 15 years as a Division I coach, including a 277-180 mark at BU. Drew’s teams have combined to post a 152-64 record over the last six seasons, winning at least 21 games in every year and averaging 25.3 wins per season.
Drew has guided the program to unprecedented heights, including the program’s first No. 1 national ranking on Jan. 9, 2017, four Sweet 16 appearances and two Elite Eights since 2010 and a 19-7 postseason record since 2009. BU has also had six NBA Draft picks since 2012, and nine Bears from the past eight seasons have signed NBA contracts, including Quincy Acy, Pierre Jackson, Cory Jefferson, Perry Jones III, Quincy Miller, Johnathan Motley, Royce O’Neale, Taurean Prince and Ekpe Udoh.
The Bears return six letterwinners, including three starters, from last season’s 27-8 team. BU welcomes back four seniors in 2017 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Manu Lecomte, 2017 Big 12 All-Defensive Team member Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., Terry Maston and Nuni Omot. Baylor also returns junior guards Jake Lindsey and King McClure.
BU adds four newcomers eligible for the 2017-18 season, including a pair of players who redshirted last season in Mark Vital and Tyson Jolly, along with freshman forward Tristan Clark (San Antonio, Texas) and sophomore transfer forward Leonard Allen (San Diego CC).
The Bears also return junior forward Jonathan Davis, and they add a pair of players who will sit out the 2017-18 season as redshirts in transfers Mario Kegler (Mississippi State) and Freddie Gillespie (Carleton).
Big 12 Conference Men’s Basketball Media Day is scheduled for Oct. 24 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., site of the 2018 Phillips 66 Men’s Basketball Championship. Live coverage will be available at Big12Sports.com.
Baylor opens the 2017-18 season on Nov. 10 when it hosts Central Arkansas at the Ferrell Center. That game will tip off at noon CT and be televised on Fox Sports Southwest and Fox Sports Go.
For season tickets, call the Baylor Athletics Ticket Office at 254-710-1000, or visit www.BaylorBears.com/tickets for more information. Follow @BaylorMBB on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for updates throughout the season.
2017-18 BIG 12 PRESEASON POLL
1. Kansas (9) – 81
2. West Virginia (1) – 71
3. TCU – 64
4. Texas – 49
5. Baylor – 47
6. Oklahoma – 43
7. Texas Tech – 36
8. Kansas State – 27
9. Iowa State – 22
10. Oklahoma State – 10