This article is part of our College Hoops Barometer series.
Remember how the Baylor Bears were supposed to struggle after winning the National Championship and losing Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler to the NBA and Mark Vital to the NFL? And yes, you read that correctly. Vital was a ferocious rebounder and defensive stalwart on last year's title-winning squad but had more of the build of a football player instead of a hooper. Vital is now attempting to take the Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham path of professional sports and is currently a tight end on the practice squad for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Back to the current iteration of coach Scott Drew's team. The transfer portal has done wonders for filling immediate holes for primetime programs, and Baylor found its floor general in the form of James Akinjo, formerly of the Arizona Wildcats. Akinjo is averaging six assists per game to lead the Big 12. But perhaps the performance of complementary players from a season ago who have been thrust into larger roles in 2021 shows not only the impeccable recruiting that Drew continues to do, but also his success in developing that talent as well. Kendall Brown and Jeremy Sochan have stepped right in as a freshmen and contributed, but LJ Cryer, Matthew Mayer and Adam Flagler were with the program last year and have simply taken on greater responsibilities and fit seamlessly into their new, more integral roles.
The Bears have not played any conference games yet, so all the gushing needs to be taken