Baylor guard Jared Butler has announced that he will return for his junior season. Butler was solid during his freshman season but really took a major step forward this season for the Bears becoming the teams go-to scorer.
Butler averaged 16 points, 3.1 assists, and 1.6 assists per game a season ago. Butler also shot 38.1% from three and 42.1% from the floor. The 6’3” guard earned him First-Team All-Big 12 and third-team All-American honors a season ago.
Butler is a player that isn’t really elite at one thing but he does everything you can ask for. He can run the point for Baylor, although he’s better playing off the ball. He’s a good shooter, although not an elite one. He’s a solid defender and rarely gets beat, although he’s not regarded as an elite defender. I think a key for him next year is finding a way to become an elite scorer, if he can become that, the rewards will show in his draft position for next season. As for what this means for Baylor, they return four of their five starters from a team that was a projected one seed a season ago.
Here is the Bears lineup going into next season:
PG: Davion Mitchell
SG: Jared Butler
SF: MaCio Teague
PF: Mark Vital
C: Tristan Clark
Key Reserves: Adam Flagler, LJ Cryer, Matthew Mayer, Flo Thamba, Dain Dainja
This roster is deep and has a lot of options to go against other teams. Butler will obviously be the main scorer but getting MaCio Teague back is huge, Teague can be the secondary scorer that can take the pressure off of Butler when Butler has an off night.
Davion Mitchell is an elite defender, Mitchell is one of the best on-ball defenders in the sport. Mitchell is also good at running the point and finding open teammates. If Mitchell can make the game come to him and stops forcing bad shots, he’s going to be one of the better players in the sport.
Mark Vital is an elite glue-guy. His ability to play essentially 1-5 defensively while grabbing rebounds, forcing tap-backs, and scoring inside will be big for the Bears.
The main question arises in the front court. With Freddie Gillespie gone, they will have to find a way to replace him. Tristan Clark was not healthy last season but if he can become the player he was pre-ACL Tear, he will be the go-to option inside.
Dain Dainja and Flo Thamba are solid interior pieces that probably won’t provide much scoring but they can play defense and rebound.
LJ Cryer and Adam Flagler can provide some help in the backcourt. While Matthew Mayer is a big man that shoots whenever we has a chance.
Last season Baylor was going to be a one seed in the NCAA Tournament, while they had a realistic chance to make a run at a National title. With the team returning four of their five starters, they should have the same opportunity this season.