Keyonte George announced Tuesday that he is declaring for the NBA Draft after starring for Baylor as a freshman. The 6-foot-4 guard was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year after averaging 15.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists for the Bears, who finished 23-11 with a second round exit from the NCAA Tournament.
George entered college as the No. 9 ranked prospect from the Class of 2022, according to 247Sports, and it didn't take him long to demonstrate why. When Baylor went on a summer tour of Canada, George immediately played a starring offensive role for the Bears, despite having never played a college game.
Once the season started, he remained a primary offensive option for the Bears in a loaded backcourt that also featured a pair of productive veterans in Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer. He reached or surpassed the 20-point threshold on 12 occasions, including a career-high 32-point outing in a win at West Virginia on Jan. 11.
George was Baylor's first Big 12 Freshman of the Year honoree since Quincy Miller won the honor in 2012. He also landed a spot in the All-Big 12 Second Team.
Keyonte George's NBA Draft projection
As a player with the offensive tools to score at all three levels, George ranks sixth in the 2023 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings from CBS Sports. He landed at No. 8 overall in a recent mock draft from Kyle Boone and landed at No. 6 in Gary Parrish's most recent mock draft.
"George has solidified himself as the best player on a team with two other high-level guards who helped Baylor win the 2021 NCAA Tournament," Parrish wrote. "At 6-4, he has respectable size for his position and the ability to shot-create in late shot-clock situations and make jumpers from deep, which is obviously valuable in today's NBA."
There are some obvious areas for improvement within George's game that will require his first NBA franchise to demonstrate some patience. Most notably, he averaged more turnovers (2.9) than assists (2.8) in his lone college season and shot just 33.8% from 3-point range. While his efficiency and assist-to-turnover ratio will need to be refined, George's defense may be a pleasant surprise at the next level. He rated significantly better on defense than Baylor's other starting guards, per evanmiya.com.
Impact on Baylor
When Baylor coach Scott Drew signed George, he knew the Bears would likely only get one season with him. This marks the second season in a row that Baylor has produced one-and-done talent after Kendall Brown and Jeremy Sochan were selected in the 2022 NBA Draft following their freshman seasons.
Two more elite freshmen are on their way to the program in the form of Ja'Kobe Walter and Miro Little. Both are guards within the top-30 of the 2023 recruiting rankings who will help replace George's production. If Cryer and/or Flagler return, Baylor's group of guards may be just as good or better next season. Former top-40 prospect Langston Love could also be in line for a larger role next season after providing Baylor with key minutes off the bench.