March 30, 2012

What will Miller Do?

By next week, we should know what both Baylor sophomore forward Perry Jones III and freshman forward Quincy Miller will do when it comes to their NBA intentions.

Everything points to PJ3 declaring given the behind-the-scenes talk and speculation. As for Miller, it's a 50-50 proposition. There are reasons for him to go and reasons for him to stay one more year.

One draft expert has given his assessment. As of Friday morning, he had PJ3 as a lottery pick at No. 9. But the comment wasn't flattering either. The expert loves the upside but questions the internal fortitude. Fair or unfair, that's his label.

Jones could have helped himself if he had a monster March. It looked like he was on his way to silence his critics when he manhandled Kansas State for 31 points in the Big 12 tournament. He also played well against Kansas in the semifinals but was a little hit-and-miss against Missouri in the title game.

After that, he struggled in the NCAA tournament. Jones scored nine total points between the second and third rounds of the tournament against South Dakota State and Colorado. And his production numbers against Xavier and Kentucky in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 were misleading.

Outside of a flurry in the middle stages of the second half against Xavier, he was pretty quiet. And his double figure effort (17 points) against Kentucky was after the fact - of course, you could say that about every Baylor player. That was just a tough afternoon and Kentucky can do that to people.

There are family financial concerns that really impact Jones' decision to turn pro. That angle has been emphasized quite a bit this year. No problem with that. Family comes first.

Plus, if you're going to hear a lot from your critics - and the NBA media will be tougher on Jones than the college media - you might as well get paid for doing it.
Should Jones do it, the clock is ticking. NBA rookie contracts run for two years with team options for the third and fourth seasons. The numbers for the first, second and third years are already set. The fourth year is a designated percentage higher than the third.

Obviously, players chosen first are set at a higher scale than those picked 30th. So if he goes in the top 10 that would be ideal. For instance, the No 9 pick in 2011 draft, Connecticut's Kemba Walker, signed a two-year contract with Charlotte and drew a $2.4 salary for this season and will draw $2.6 million next season.

You feel for the pressure PJ3 is under. It's not easy. He knows he has the God-given talent but the future of the family riding on his shoulders. That's a lot to burden someone who is not even 21.

All you can hope for is that he makes this decision with all of the information at his disposal. Then you want him to take advantage of this opportunity.

For Miller, he had a great season averaging 10.6 points and nearly five rebounds per game. But there were youthful mistakes. I think Baylor coaches hope he returns. Miller is not a Derrick Rose type of freshman or Anthony Davis. He's a different player, but I'm talking about freshmen who just dominated at their level. Miller didn't do that. He's really good. But he needs another year.


Expect Baylor to keep an eye on junior college point guard Chris Jones of Northwest Florida State College.

The Bears had big time success signing Bob Cousy finalist Pierre Jackson out of Southern Idaho, last year's JUCO Player of the Year. Jackson's Southern Idaho team won the JUCO national title in 2011.

Jones, who just completed his freshman season at Northwest Florida, could be a solution for the Bears when Jackson's eligibility runs out next season. Like Jackson, Jones led his team to the junior college national championship game in Hutchinson, Kan. Northwest Florida lost to South Plains (Tex.), 81-68, in the final.

Jones (5-10, 165), out of Memphis, Tenn., is an explosive scoring point guard similar to Jackson. He averaged 18.4 points per game and exploded for a 30-point outing in the Raiders' first-round national tournament win over Navarro.

Jones is the first player to win the Panhandle Conference's Freshman of the Year Award and Player of the Year Award in the same year since 1997.

He is quick off the dribble and has the similar ability of Jackson to create open looks from behind the 3-point arc even with a defender guarding him.

The only weakness Jackson showed in Hutch was he was reckless with the ball and had too many turnovers (where have we seen that before).


Southlake Carroll quarterback Kenny Hill is in the middle of the baseball season with the Dragons.

Knowing Carroll baseball's history, that season should probably transition into the playoffs and finish sometime in May.

Then it will be the time when Hill starts taking his recruiting to another level. He said he wants to take a few more visits, narrow his offers and then decide. While he doesn't have any trips in mind yet, the places he is considering visiting are Baylor, Texas A&M, TCU, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Ole Miss and Missouri.

Hill already came to Baylor's Jan. 29 junior day and has an offer from the Bears. He is considered a great dual threat quarterback, ranked No. 165 in the Rivals 250. He led Carroll to the Class 5A Division I state championship this past December. The Dragons went 16-0.

Given that information, you can expect Hill's decision sometime in the summer. That would be consistent with what he's told everybody. He wants to decide before the 2012 football season.


Lancaster athlete Demarcus Ayers is just the type of player that Baylor head coach Art Briles likes.

He's an athlete, who isn't huge. But he's fast, strong and agile.

There's no doubt the Baylor coaches wouldn't be interested in him if they didn't invite him to the March 21 pro day. However, that was Ayers' third visit to the Baylor campus. But there are a lot of other players like him that the staff is also evaluating. An offer has not been made but Ayers is hoping that will change.

"My interest in Baylor is very high,'' Ayers said. "If they offer, I'll commit. I love the program.''

Ayers is planning on going to Texas' spring game on Saturday and is likely to attend Baylor's spring game on April 14. As for where he could fit into Baylor's scheme, he said the coaching staff is looking at him as either an inside receiver, outside receiver or defensive back.

Every time, Ayers touched the ball for the Tigers in 2011, he made something happen. He averaged 10.1 yards per rushing attempt and 17.4 yards per reception. Put it this way, Ayers scored a touchdown every fourth time he touched the ball.

"They said they were going to be by in spring,'' Ayers said. "So hopefully, I'll know more by then.''

Lancaster starts its spring football season in mid-April.


While we gave you the unfortunate news about Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey being diagnosed with Bell's Palsey, you can rest assure that she isn't going to let that affect her in the way she handles her team at the Women's Final Four this weekend in Denver.

All Baylor fans, colleagues and critics know Mulkey to be a feisty and determined person. The good thing about the announcement is that she and the university got out in front of it to end any speculation.

Baylor (38-0) is attempting to become the first program in women's college basketball to complete a season at 40-0. The Lady Bears play Stanford, a traditional Final Four and national power, in one semifinal at 8:00 p.m. Sunday in Denver. If they win, they play for the national title against on Tuesday against the winner of Connecticut-Notre Dame.


Steve Smith's baseball team is continuing the good karma during the 2011-12 athletic calendar. The No. 21/23-ranked Bears (19-7, 6-0 in the Big 12) have won eight straight and lead the conference through the first two weeks of the season.

The home portion of the conference season continues with a three-game series against Oklahoma State this weekend. The Cowboys (14-11, 1-2) just opened their conference season last week dropping two of three at Missouri.

Left-hander Josh Turley (3-0, 2.08 ERA) starts Friday at 6:35 p.m. Right-hander Trent Blank (6-0, 1.76) is scheduled for Saturday's 3:05 game. There is no starter named for Sunday's 1:05 p.m. game.

This is the program's annual Military Appreciation Weekend. All military members can purchase up to four tickets for $3 each throughout the weekend. Additionally, students wearing Baylor Line jerseys to Friday night's game will receive a free hamburger and soft drink.

So if you can get over to Baylor Ballpark this weekend, make it a point to do so.

SicEmSports.com publisher Todd Wills contributed to this report.

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