Arguably no team in the nation has benefited more (indirectly) from the array of coaching moves than Baylor. They had already collected Nolan Dennis from John Calipari's now infamous Memphis recruiting class. And now they have grabbed Mark McLaughlin, a shooting guard who was released from his letter of intent by Nevada after Mark Fox jumped to Georgia. I can't give you a good link for this story right now, because the Scout.com article is behind a registration wall, but you can see excited Baylor fans discussing it here. ESPN has it also.
It's easy to ignore Baylor's chances in 2009-10: They went 5-11 in a Big 12 Conference that didn't get a lot of national respect. They lose three starters to graduation, including their best player (Curtis Jerrells). But remember, there's a difference between a team's resume and a team's ability. Some teams end up being a whole lot better than their record indicates, as Baylor proved with their great runs in the Big 12 tournament and the NIT. Georgia Tech, Oregon and Virginia Tech are a couple of schools that come to mind when talking about teams that were better than their records in 2008-09, but two teams were just really, really much better than their record: Georgetown and Baylor. A big mistake a lot of analysts will make when rating teams in the preseason will be to judge Baylor as a 5-11 Big 12 team that loses three starters. I'd rather view them as the 27th best team in the country (according to the most reliable computer ratings on the internet) that loses three starters but also brings in a stellar recruiting class.
Let's go through Baylor's projected lineup:
Kevin Rogers, Tweety Carter, LaceDarius Dunn, Quincy Acy and Josh Lomers all started 10 or more games last season, and all will be back. LaceDarius Dunn is the best scorer of the bunch, and should lead the team in points next season. He will start at shooting guard. Tweety Carter will likely start at the point. Kevin Rogers is a load inside, and he was the best post player that Baylor had last season, so he will definitely start at the 4 or 5 spot. Quincy Acy is a decent small forward who will get 20-25 minutes per game next season, even if he doesn't start. Lomers is a 7-footer who is still growing into his body and struggled to stay on the floor and out of foul trouble last season.
As for the incomers, first we have Ekpe Udoh, a transfer from Michigan (a stellar post defender who collected 6 points and 5 rebounds per game in 2007-08 for the Wolverines). Nolan Dennis became Baylor's best recruit when they snapped him up from Memphis, and he's a 6'5" two guard. Mark McLaughlin is a quality point guard recruit, although I wouldn't expect him to play too much as a Freshman. A.J. Walton is actually a higher rated point guard recruit. The best big man recruit is probably Givon Crump, although he's a bit undersized at 6'7", 205 pounds. He'll have to put some weight on. One last player to keep an eye on is Anthony Jones, the best recruit from Baylor's '08 class. He only played 9 minutes per game as a Freshman, mostly because he was just too skinny and didn't play well enough back in the fall. Expect him to play a much larger role as a Sophomore.
I actually think that Nolan Dennis will start and Baylor will go with a three guard lineup. I think Quincy Acy will be the fifth starter. Josh Lomers will get extended playing time, but I don't think he'll be ready to go 30 minutes per game. Crump, Jones and Udoh should all get extended time off the bench as well. Don't be surprised to see either Walton or McLaughlin redshirt, but either of them would be productive in 8-15 minutes per game if they get the chance.
A few weeks ago I rated Baylor eighth in a Big 12 Conference that should get six or seven Tournament teams. I had them as one of the teams that was seriously considered for an at-large bid to the Dance but was left out. But that was before the two new recruits. McLaughlin should turn out to be a quality signing, even though I wouldn't expect too much next season. But Nolan Dennis is a great signing who will pay off immediately. And I have a lot of faith in Scott Drew, who is one of the best young coaches in the nation. At this point, I plan on moving Baylor into the bracket when the next BP65 comes out in about a month. The future is bright for Baylor.