The 2019-2020 Baylor men’s basketball team saw unprecedented levels of success during and after the most recent season was cut short thanks to a fantastic starting 5 and next man off the bench mentality! The Bears had a historic run during the 2020 regular season, finishing with a with a 26-4 record on a 23-game winning streak that made school and Big 12 history. They not only defeated Kansas in Lawrence for the first time ever, but they were also ranked No. 1 in the nation for five consecutive weeks, which, according to Baylor Athletics’ Jerry Hill “was the longest by any team since Kentucky in 2015.” After the season’s abrupt and heartbreaking end, Baylor fans worried about the team’s future as guards MaCio Teague and Jared Butler declared for the NBA Draft, but both star athletes announced their returns to Baylor in the summer. Since the Bears are returning all but one of their 2019-2020 starters, they’re reaching exciting preseason heights in the polls, awards lists, and team records. In July I wrote about the team having the current No. 1 recruiting class in the country, and according to Baylor Athletics, “the Bears’ 2021 signing class is the highest-ranked in program history, coming in at No. 4 nationally in ESPN’s 2021 recruiting class rankings.” The class of Kendall Brown, Langston Love, and Jeremy Sochan is the top-ranked in the Big 12 (even beating Kansas!) and follows only Michigan, Oregon, and Duke. On Wednesday, the Associated Press announced their Preseason All-America Team features Butler as one of the six best players in the country. Along with Butler, AP included Iowa’s Luka Garza, Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham, Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu, Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert and Arizona State’s Remy Martin on the preseason team. The last pieces of exciting preseason news for the Bears is that they’ve been ranked No. 1 in the coaches poll for the first time ever and No. 2 in AP, which is a program-best. Baylor received 12 of 32 first-place coaches votes and 24 of 64 AP first-place votes with 1,540 points, one fewer than No. 1 Gonzaga. Although it’s scary to see such high expectations for the team, I’m excited to see how the Bears perform in the upcoming season!