Leading up to the opening of the 2022-23 Big 12 Men’s basketball season Heartland College Sports will analyze each of the Big 12 men’s basketball rosters. Today it’s the Baylor Bears.
2021-22 Season-Ending Roster: F Flo Thamba, F Jeremy Sochan, G/F Kendall Brown, G Dale Bonner, G LJ Cryer, G/F Jordan Turner, G Adam Flagler, G James Akinjo, G Langston Love, G Mitchell Paul, F Austin Sacks, G Kijana Love, F Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, F Matthew Mayer, F Zach Loveday.
No longer at Baylor: F Jeremy Sochan (NBA), G/F Kendall Brown (NBA), G James Akinjo (pro basketball), G Mitchell Paul (was a senior in 2021-22), G Kijana Love (senior), F Matthew Mayer (transferred to Illinois).
2022-23 Season-Opening Roster: F Flo Thamba (6-10, Sr.), G Keyonte George (6-4, Fr.), G Jake Younkin (6-3, Jr.), G Dale Bonner (6-2, Sr.), G LJ Cryer (6-1, Jr.), G/F Jordan Turner (6-8, Jr.), G Adam Flagler (6-3, Sr.), F Jalen Bridges (6-7, Jr.), G Dantwan Grimes (6-2, Jr.), G Langston Love (6-5, Fr.), F Josh Ojianwuna (6-10, Fr.), F Austin Sacks (6-7, So.), F Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (6-8, Sr.), F Zach Loveday (7-0, Jr.), F Caleb Lohner (6-8, Jr.)
How The Bears Are Built
Returning Players (9): Thamba, Bonner, Cryer, Turner, Flagler, Love, Sacks, Tchamwa Tchatchoua, Loveday.
Transfers (3): Bridges (West Virginia), G Dantwan Grimes (Kilgore (TX) College), Lohner (BYU). Note: Younkin is new to the program but is a walk-on.
Freshman/Recruiting Class (2): George, Ojianwuna.
Potential starting lineup: Flagler, Cryer, George, Lohner, Thamba
Why?: The news that Cryer is ready to resume basketball activities after last season’s injury gives the Bears two shooters that can hit better than 40 percent from the 3-point line (Flagler being the other). At the time of his injury, Cryer was the Big 12’s leading shooter from the arc by percentage. The Bears didn’t bring in George, a Top 5 recruit, to sit. He played a significant role during the Bears’ trip to Toronto for the GlobalJam Tournament. Thamba will be the holdover forward inside, and Lohner feels like a good fit offensively with this group.
The bench: Bonner, Bridges, Love, Loveday, Grimes
Why? Love comes off the bench to start the season, but one shouldn’t forget that he was the top-rated recruit in Baylor’s 2021 class before tearing his ACL. He is now medically clearned and he can challenge for playing time and, eventually, a starting role. Bonner will be the point guard off the bench. Grimes had a great career in Kilgore and could be the rare junior college player to make an early contribution. Bridges backs up Lohner and the Bears should give Loveday more of a spin this year. He’s the rare seven-footer in this conference and that can make a difference on certain nights.
The wild card: Tchamwa Tchatchoua. Once he’s healthy, he has to get into shape and then the Bears have to work him into the rotation. I’m interested to see where he’s at in February. If he’s on the floor and giving the Bears 10 minutes a game, with that usually ‘Everyday John’ energy, that’s a win for the Bears.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.