The Baylor Bears are in the midst of chasing down four teams ahead of them in the Big 12 Conference.
This time next year, it could be the other way around.
King McClure (Dallas) and Wendell Mitchell (Rockdale) are two of the top guards in the state of Texas, and after they graduate from high school this spring, they will head to Waco to join the Bears in the race for Big 12 supremacy.
“I just want to win,” McClure said. “That’s my main goal. That’s my top priority.”
Winning has been a habit of McClure’s since he started high school. In his four years on the varsity team at Triple A Academy, the explosive shooting guard has led his team to a 95-26 record, averaging 23.8 points and 5.8 rebounds for his career. This season, his numbers are even higher – 31.9 points and seven boards per contest, including five games of 40 or more points and one night where he dropped 51 on an unprepared Carter High School.
Mitchell, who committed a few months after McClure, is well aware of his future teammate’s abilities.
“He’s a really good player,” Mitchell said. “He’s really, really talented. He’s quick off the bounce and I noticed that his jump shot has improved a lot over the last few years that I’ve seen him. He attacks the rim relentlessly.”
McClure will not be the only freshman lighting up the scoreboard for the Bears next year. Mitchell is just as lethal offensively as his future teammate, averaging 29.1 points per game and 25.2 on his career. The point guard also has averaged more than four steals per game in each of the past two seasons, proving he is just as big of a threat without the ball in his hands as he is with it.
Mitchell’s competitive edge is the first thing McClure noticed of Baylor’s incoming point guard.
“He just wants to win and play basketball,” he said. “That’s what we have in common. He seems like he’s a pretty humble guy and he’s down to earth.”
People like Mitchell are why McClure decided to sign with the Bears over other top programs in the nation. While schools like SMU, Kansas and UCLA were enticing, Baylor offered a different kind of culture McClure was seeking.
As a private baptist school, Baylor provides the ideal kind of atmosphere and environment for McClure. He said the players and coaches he met all possessed good character qualities and that was a big reason why he chose the program.
“Christianity is a top priority in my life,” he said. “When I play, I want people to see Christ through me. If you watch me play, I’m not really big on boasting, I’m not big on pounding my chest every time I score and being all arrogant. I’d rather be humble, and when I score, I just give it to God.”
Other key factors in his decision included the school’s proximity to home and his relationship with Scott Drew and the rest of the coaching staff.
“He’s a great coach,” he said of Drew. “In my opinion, he’s one of the most underrated coaches in college basketball. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves.”
Mitchell also had high praise of his future coach, attributing much of his commitment to the staff.
“The coaching staff was great,” he said. “Being around them made me feel better. I felt really comfortable around them. I like the way their system is. I like the workout facilities, and the school is generally just a really good school. I feel like I fit in really well there.”
Both guards are eager to hit those facilities and start building a championship program in Waco. Baylor has not won a regular season conference title since 1950, but with the addition of this talented Texas duo, next year might be different.
“I’ll do whatever it takes for my team to win,” McClure said. “If I have to score 40, I’ll put up 40. If I have to lock down the best player, I’ll lock down the best player. Whatever Coach tells me to do, that’s what I’m going to do.”