The Baylor Bears are a team full of veterans, with a fifth-grader, recurring All-Big-12 artists and three players with national championship rings on the roster. Yet night after night, the team walks like a freshman. Keyonte George is taking collegiate basketball by storm and, as we all expected, he may not have to wait long for the varsity game.
As demonstrated at the GLOBL JAM tournament in Canada this summer, George can score the stone. What’s most impressive about his collegiate fame is not only how quickly he’s adapted to the sport’s finest competitors, but also how complete his game is.
When the Bears changed the calendar to 2023 and the Big 12 schedule, George took his score to another level. George played in by far the best basketball conference in America and has averaged more than 23 points per game in his last five competitions, including a career-high 32 on the road against West Virginia.
His season results put him fourth in the Stacked Conference, six spots higher than Kansas’ Grady Dick, who outperformed George in most mock drafts earlier in the season.
George’s stats are pretty flashy for a newbie, but his impact is best noticed when he’s not scoring, and sometimes when he’s not even on the ground. When he’s on the bench, the Bears’ offense falters, even with Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer out there.
In Saturday’s convincing 74-58 win over Oklahoma State, the Pokes had their biggest run of the game, going 10-0 in the first half with George on the bench. When the freshman checked back into the game, the Cowboys never got close again, and George was +26.
Part of his impact on offense is just the attention he draws. Because he’s a 36% three-point shooter and an experienced finisher on the rim, defense must respect him anywhere on the floor.
On top of that, he’s one of the best passers-by at the conference.
In Tuesday night’s win over Texas Tech, the Red Raiders learned how difficult George is to defend, as he knocked down five triples for 27 points and, when defense is overloaded on him, he can make the altruistic play by picking three defenders draws and making the pass for the easy flush to a teammate.
Defensively, he’s not Davion Mitchell or Jeremy Sochan like Bears fans have seen over the past few years, but he’s getting better game by game. His burgeoning physicality and length make him a useful defender in the NBA.
He can defend multiple positions and, even as a 19-year-old, has already reached the physicality of the Big 12, which is only a small step away from the NBA in that sense.
In terms of his torrent, the way he controls the game and his ability to finish, his game is uncannily similar to Jason (now Jay) Williams when he played at Duke in the early 2000s.
Williams stayed three years, so he snagged a national championship and an International of the Year award, and was drafted No. 2 overall in 2002. Things are different now and we probably won’t see that development in George’s game in college, but their games are eerily similar, which bodes well for Baylor.
Two months into his first season, George has lived up to the hype and already established himself as a lottery player. As long as he stays healthy, his blueprint pool will only increase.
Because of his hot streaks when shooting the ball, his way of dominating the game, and ability to make winning plays rather than just the flashy ones, the Bears will go just as far as George can carry them, with a little help from one excellent supporting cast.
Keep following Cameron Stuart Twitter
Want the latest breaking and inside news for the Baylor Bears? Click here
Keep following Inside the Bears Twitter and Facebook
Make sure you subscribe to our daily podcast @LockedOnBaylor today! Click here Listen.
Want more Baylor Bears news? Check out the SI.com team page here