Baylor last made it to the Final Four of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 1950. They lost to Bradley and then to N.C. State in the third place game.
For perspective, I was the only Power Liner alive that March. Also, the whole tournament consisted of eight teams and was considered by many to be less prestigious than the National Invitational Tournament (NIT).
Since 1950, Baylor basketball has had some highs, including an NIT Finals appearance in 2009 and an NIT championship in 2013, and some nasty lows. After making it to the Final Four in 1950, Baylor did not appear in the NCAA tournament again for 38 years.
The program is best known, perhaps, for the fact that one of its players murdered a teammate in 2003. This year’s trip to the Final Four should replace that tragedy at the top of Baylor basketball lore.
Although the program hasn’t enjoyed consistently great success since 1950, plenty of excellent players have passed through. Here are my picks for the best of them:
Jared Butler (2018-present)
Butler is the leader of the current team. He averages 16.5 points and 4.8 assists per game, while making 40.4 percent of his three-pointers and playing great defense.
Butler made first-team all-American this year. I believe he’s the first Baylor player to receive that honor in the 60 years I’ve been following college basketball.
Vinnie Johnson (1977-79)
A native of Brooklyn, Johnson was known as “The Microwave” during his pro career because he came off the bench and heated up instantly. In college, he was hot from the jump.
Johnson played only two years at Baylor. During that time, he averaged 24.1 points per game, making 51.2 percent of his field goal attempts. That scoring average is a Baylor record, as is his 50 point performance against Rice.
As a senior in 1979, Johnson was a second-team all-American. Later that year, Seattle selected him with the seventh pick in the NBA draft, Johnson played 13 seasons in the NBA, mostly with Detroit, where he was an important piece on two championship teams. In his prime, he was good for at least a point every two minutes coming off the bench.
Terry Teagle (1978-82)
Like Vinnie Johnson, Teagle was a scoring machine. In his last three seasons with the Bears, he averaged 23.0, 20.0 and 22.1 points per game. His career field goal percentage was a shade under 54 percent. In 1980, he was player of the year in the old Southwest Conference and was a first-team all-league selection the following two seasons. As a senior, he made second-team all-American.
Teagle was also a force on the boards. The 6-5 guard averaged 7.3 rebounds per game during his four years at Baylor.
Teagle had nearly a decade-long career in the NBA. He, too, was instant offense and his pro stats are comparable to The Microwave’s.
Quincy Acy (2008-12)
Acy is eighth on the all-time Baylor rebounding list and tied for tenth in points scored. He made 60 percent of his field goal attempts during his four year career, the best percentage of any Bear with 1,000 or more career points.
To top it off, Acy was a great defender. He ranks ninth all time on the school’s blocked shot list and made the Southwest Conference’s all-defensive team as a senior.
Baylor had a good run while Acy was there. He helped lead the Bears to a pair of Elite Eight appearances and the NIT Finals.
Acy played seven years in the NBA as a reserve.
Brian Skinner (1994-98)
Skinner ranks first at Baylor in career rebounds and career blocks. He’s fifth all time in points.
As a senior, Skinner averaged 18 points, nine rebounds, and 3.5 blocked shots per game. His field goal percentage was .553.
The Clippers selected Skinner in the first round of the 1998 draft. He had a true journeyman’s career, playing for eight different NBA teams and being traded to two others for whom he never played.
Michael Williams (1985-88)
He’s fifth on Baylor’s list of all-time assist leaders and third all time in scoring. A two-time all-Southwest Conference selection, Williams averaged 18.4 points per game as a senior, while shooting field goals at a 50.5 percent success rate.
Williams wasn’t a great free-throw shooter at Baylor, but as a pro he holds the NBA record for most consecutive free throws made — 97. He made 87 percent of his free throws during a ten year career in which he averaged 10 points per game.
After retiring from the game, Williams became a successful real estate builder/developer. According to Wikipedia, the projects in which his company has been involved include AT&T Stadium, DFW Airport, and Parkland Hospital.
Lacedarius Dunn (2007-11)
He’s Baylor’s all-time leader in scoring. In fact, he finished his career as the all-time Big 12 leader in points scored. Currently, he’s second behind the great Buddy Hield. (The conference has existed for around 25 years.)
In his best season — as a junior — Dunn averaged 19.6 points per game and made 42 percent of his three-pointers. That season, he received honorable all-American mention.
Dunn’s pro career has been overseas. Currently, he plays in Israel.
David Wesley (1989-92)
Wesley was first-team all-Southwest Conference in his last two seasons at Waco, and conference player of the year as a senior. That season, he averaged 21 points per game, along with five rebounds. He made 38 percent of his three-point shots.
Undrafted out of college, Wesley nonetheless had a fine 14-year NBA career, during which he averaged 12.5 points per game. In his best season (2000-01), he averaged 17 points per game for Charlotte. He is now the television color commentator for the New Orleans Pelicans.
William Chatmon (1969-71)
“Chat the Cat” played only two seasons for Baylor. During that time, he averaged 22.1 points and 13.4 rebounds per game. He was named first-team all-Southwest Conference both seasons.
Chatmon was selected by Buffalo in the second round of the 1971 NBA draft, but never played in the league.
Daryl Middleton (1984-88)
This native of Queens was an all-Southwest Conference first-teamer in his junior and senior seasons. In those two seasons, he averaged around 19 points and eight rebounds per game, and made better than 57 percent of his field goal attempts.
Middleton never played in the NBA, but had quite a career in Europe. For example, he was named the Spanish League’s most valuable player three times.
Curtis Jerrells (2005-09)
Jerrells is the fourth leading scorer in Baylor basketball history and he’s second on the all-time assist list. He led the Bears in scoring and assists all four of his seasons at Waco.
He was a first team all-Big 12 selection as a junior. As a senior, he helped lead Baylor to the NIT Finals in 2009.
Jerrells never quite caught on in the NBA. He currently plays in Poland.
Pierre Jackson (2011-13)
Jackson played only two seasons for the Bears, but left an impressive mark. As a senior, he led the Big 12 in scoring (19.8) and assists (7.1) per game, becoming first player to lead a power-6 conference in
both categories since Arizona’s Jason Terry in 1998-99. He also led Baylor to victory in the NIT.
Despite playing only two seasons, he’s 15th on Baylor’s all-time scoring list and third in assists.
Jackson had lots of success in the NBA’s development league, but played in only eight NBA games. Following stints in Greece, Israel, Croatia, and China, he now plies his trade in Turkey.
Aundre Branch (1991-95)
Like Wesley, Branch earned all-Southwest Conference honors as a junior and senior. He averaged around 20 points and 4.5 rebounds those two years.
Branch was a high-volume three-point shooter and made around 37 percent of his three-pointers in his last two seasons.
Branch later joined the Harlem Globetrotters where he was known as “Hot Shot.” He retired from the Globetrotters after Disney purchased the team because, in his words, “they were pulling away from [the basketball].”
Darrell Hardy (1964-67)
Hardy averaged 19 points and 11.6 rebounds per game during his three years with the Bears. He was selected first-team all-Southwest conference in each of his three seasons.
Hardy was drafted by the Detroit Pistons but never appeared in the NBA. He played one season for the Houston Mavericks in the ABA.
Rico Gathers (2012-16)
He’s easily Baylor’s all-time leader in rebounds, as well as the Bears’ single-season leader. As a junior, he ranked third nationally in rebounds, averaging 11.8 per game.
Gathers is a two-time all-Big 12 honoree.
After leaving Baylor, Gathers, at 6-6 285 pounds, turned to football. He played one season for the Dallas Cowboys at tight end.
Gathers’ father is a cousin of the late, great basketball star, Hank Gathers.
Don Heatherington (1947-50)
Jerry Mallett (1954-57)
Winston Moore (1962-65)
Larry Gatewood (1967-70)
Charles McKinney (1972-74)
Nelson Haggerty (1991-94)
Tweety Carter (2006-10)
Ekpe Udoh (2009-10)
Cory Jefferson (2009-14)
Perry Jones (2010-12)
Issac Austin (2012-14)
Taurean Prince (2012-16)
Johnathan Motley (2014-17)
MaCio Teague (2016-present)
Davion Mitchell (2017-present)