Perry Jones’ return a massive boost to Baylor’s outlook

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Baylor’s 2011-12 season outlook just got a lot brighter.

Forward Perry Jones announced Monday he’ll return to school for his sophomore season, a big surprise given that Jones is a sure-fire NBA draft lottery pick and passes up on millions for at least a year. (Not to mention any resentment he might’ve felt toward the NCAA for his season-ending suspension, which some saw an incredibly raw deal.)

“I really believe that I can grow as a player and as a person if I stay one more year at Baylor University. This is a pretty tough decision,” Jones said Monday. “It was hard. I mean you see (NBA draft hype) and that is your dream all of your life. You see you can go number one. I mean, it is in the back of my mind but I know that this is the right choice.”

Jones averaged 13.9 points, 7.2 rebounds last season and made 55 percent of his shots.

“We are most excited about just being able to spend another year with Perry the person,” Baylor coach Scott Drew told reporters. “As the basketball player he has a special God-given ability in size and talent, but what really makes him special is the type of person he is and that is why his teammates were jumping up and down when he said that. Quincy’s jaw dropped.”

The 6-11, 230-pound post player returns to a Bears team that adds 5-star wing Quincy Miller, 4-star guard Deuce Bello and transfer Gary Franklin, who was one of Cal’s most explosive players. He’ll be eligible by the second semester. (Jones will have to sit five games next year due to that NCAA violation.)

Add those players to a roster that features two explosive frontcourt players in Quincy Acy and Anthony Jones and Baylor has the talent to be a top 10 team.

But will the Bears deliver on that promise?

Their 18-13 season was a disappointment given that it featured both Joneses, Acy and LaceDarius Dunn, the Big 12’s all-time leading scorer. Much will depend on point guard A.J. Walton – making all those scorers happy isn’t easy – and if they can play defense. Baylor’s 28-8 record and run to the Elite Eight in 2010 was fueled by an incredibly efficient offense run by Tweety Carter and an underrated defense anchored by forward Ekpe Udoh. (Also in the mix is junior college transfer Pierre Jackson.)

If Perry Jones delivers on his immense talent – and after a slow start to his freshman year, he ended up being one of the more efficient and productive freshman players last season – it’ll go a long way to doing just that.

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