IRVING, Texas – Baylor men’s basketball has been picked to finish fifth in the 2017 Big 12 Conference preseason coaches poll. The Bears received 53 points and trailed Kansas (81), West Virginia (65), Texas (59) and Iowa State (56).
This marks the sixth time in the last seven seasons that the Bears have been projected to finish in the top half of the league. BU was picked fifth last year and finished tied for fifth at 10-8 in conference play. The Bears earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, marking three straight seasons of a No. 6 seed or better in March Madness.
Head coach Scott Drew is entering his 14th season at Baylor and holds the program record with 250 career wins at BU. He’s guided the Bears to three consecutive NCAA Tournament bids for the first time in program history, and BU is one of only 13 schools to be nationally ranked in each of the last nine seasons.
Baylor won 22 games in 2015-16, recording the eighth 20-win season in the last nine years, and the Bears have averaged 23.8 wins per season since 2007-08.
BU returns six letterwinners from last season, including 2017 Preseason All-Big 12 honoree Johnathan Motley, along with juniors Al Freeman and Terry Maston, senior Ishmail Wainright, and sophomores Jake Lindsey and King McClure. The Bears also add junior Manu Lecomte, who sat out last season after transferring from Miami and last week was named 2017 Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.
Additionally, Wendell Mitchell and Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. are expected to make their Baylor debuts after sitting out as redshirts a season ago. The Bears also welcome junior college transfer Nuni Omot, freshmen Mark Vital and Tyson Jolly and sophomore walk-on Jonathan Davis.
Kansas was chosen as the preseason favorite with nine first-place votes totaling 81 points, followed by West Virginia with 65 points, Texas with 59 points and Iowa State with 56 points. Baylor’s 53 points place them ahead of Oklahoma in sixth with 40 points, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech tied for seventh with 32 points, Kansas State in eighth with 20 points and TCU in 10th with 12 points.
Big 12 Conference Men’s Basketball Media Day is scheduled for Oct. 25 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., site of the 2017 Phillips 66 Men’s Basketball Championship. Live coverage will be available at Big12Sports.com.
Baylor opens the 2016-17 season on Nov. 11 when it hosts Oral Roberts at the Ferrell Center. That game will tip off at 6 p.m. CT and be televised nationally on ESPNU.
For season tickets, call the Baylor Athletics Ticket Office at 254-710-1000, or visit www.BaylorBears.com/tickets for more information. For daily updates, follow the official Twitter feed of Baylor Basketball, @BaylorMBB.
2016-17 BIG 12 PRESEASON POLL
1. Kansas (9) – 81
2. West Virginia – 65
3. Texas – 59
4. Iowa State – 56
5. Baylor – 53
6. Oklahoma – 40
t-7. Oklahoma State – 32
t-7. Texas Tech – 32
9. Kansas State – 20
10. TCU - 12