Baylor MBB’s Walter, Bridges on 2023 Preseason Watch Lists

Jalen Bridges
Photo credit: Justin Tafoya – Getty Images

The Baylor Men’s Basketball team continues to rake in the all-important 2023 preseason honors highlighting two critical members of this year’s squad. Freshman G Ja’Kobe Walter and senior F Jalen Bridges were named to two additional watch lists following their placements on the 2023-24 All-Big 12 Preseason Honorable Mention list (I wrote about that list here). Walter was selected as a preseason watch list member of the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award recognizing the top shooting guard in Division I men’s basketball. Walter joins fellow Big 12 athletes Kevin McCullar from Kansas and former Bear/current Houstonian LJ Cryer on the watch list and follows in the footsteps of previous Bears MaCio Teague, Adam Flagler, and Keyonte George who were all named to the list. Bridges was picked for the Julius Erving Award Watch list, which is given to the best small forward in Division I men’s basketball. Johnny Furphy of Kansas and Arthur Kaluma of Kansas State are also on the list.

In a previous post about the three Baylor athletes receiving first preseason honors, I wrote about how the conference’s head coaches all vote on the All-Big 12 teams with each coach forbidden from voting for their own athlete. This season’s trio features two fresh and one familiar face who collect a spot on the preseason teams: Walter, senior G RayJ Dennis, and Bridges with all three making it on the 2023-24 All-Big 12 Preseason Honorable Mention list. Walter was also named Preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year as the Bears’ third consecutive preseason freshman of the year pick following former G Keyonte George (2022-23) and F Kendall Brown (2021-22). According to Baylor Athletics’ Jerry Hill (papa), “The Bears and Kansas Jayhawks are the only teams in league history to have the preseason conference freshman of the year in three consecutive seasons. BU is the first team in Big 12 history to have three straight solo honorees, as KU’s Cliff Alexander shared the award with Texas’ Myles Turner in 2014-15.”

Walter, as one of the trio vouching to collect preseason honors, is only the sixth McDonald’s All-American in Baylor Men’s Basketball history, leading the Link Academy Lions to a 24-1 record in the 2022-23 season. In Bridges’ one and only season with the Bears so far, he made 125 of 247 field goals (50.6%), 36 of 111 3s (32.4%), and 63 of 81 free throws (77.8%) with 192 boards, 35 assists, 35 blocks, 30 steals, and 349 points for an average of 10.3 points per game. Bridges also made a Big 12 Championship record 7 of 8 made 3s (87.5%) in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals.