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October 23, 2019

Scott Drew

Kansas City, Missouri

SCOTT DREW: For my birthday, there's no place I'd rather be than here with you guys.

As far as our team goes, I think every coach is excited about the up-and-coming season, what could be, might be, hopefully is. With our team, I know we have good chemistry, we really like the guys. Big thing will be, just like with all of us, is how we handle adversity.

When you're in the Big 12, best league in the country for six straight years, you're going to hit adversity. We try to challenge ourselves with as tough a non-conference schedule as we can. Hopefully that will get us ready for Big 12 play.

Q. How surprising was the decision with Mario (Kegler) to leave? How has your team dealt with that?
SCOTT DREW: Well, I think first as a coach you always hate to lose anybody. When you lose somebody, it's tough, it takes some adjustment time for everyone.

Mario (Kegler) was going to be a big piece to our team this year. He had three 20-plus games in the Big 12, fourth-year college guy. It definitely hurts.

Just like when Tristan (Clark) went down last year, you got to adjust. Next man up mentality. At least it's before the season so we have more time to adapt with that.

Q. You were picked ninth last year, second this year. Did you go from a bad coach with bad players to a good coach with good players? What happened? How much do you like this team right now?
SCOTT DREW: I think, first, you'd always rather be picked higher than lower because it means people think you have some talent, some things to work with. At the same time every coach will tell you exactly the same thing: what makes our league such a great league is the parity. The difference between second and tenth, it's a one- or two-possession game.

Why we're picked high, we have a lot of players coming back. Part of that was due to Tristan coming back, I mean, six-month rehab, he's been back in the fold of things. But he's not a 20-10 guy right now. Hopefully he gets to that. It's going to take him a while still to recover, get used to playing. That's why you have the non-conference. Hopefully by conference time he'll return to the player that he was, leading the nation in field goal percentage.

Again, I know it was a tough surgery he had. The recovery time, it's been a long time. It's going to take him games to get that rust off, get back to playing how he was.

Part of being picked high also is because Freddy Gillespie and Matthew Mayer are both guys that went through surgeries, six-month rehabs as well; one with a shoulder, one with a hip surgery. With those three guys coming back I definitely know as a coach we'll be much better as they get game experience because they haven't had the practice time this summer or in the foreign tour that you would hope they would have gotten.

Q. Is it surprising to see Jamie Dixon picked to finish last? How deep is this conference right now?
SCOTT DREW: Again, whoever was going to be picked ninth or tenth, every coach will tell you they could finish first or second in the league. Why the league is, again, ranked the number one RPI, net ranking last year, RPI for the last years, top to bottom the best league in the country. Doesn't mean much difference no matter where you're picked, what people think you're going to do.

Everyone is going to be in close games. Whoever wins those close games will finish towards the top, whoever loses those close games will be closer to the bottom. There's a lot of transition this year with a lot of teams having new faces. How quickly and how they adjust, how successful they are will show where those teams finish.

Q. When you first got to Baylor, you were in there for an awful lot of the top 50, top 100 players in the country when you were recruiting. You've changed your recruiting sometime, player development. Talk about the evolution of your program by the recruiting standpoint.
SCOTT DREW: I think the longer we've been at Baylor, too, we've been able to maybe get a chance to get a better feel for players three and four years out, recruit them longer, see them in our camps, get a feel for just the intangibles, the character part, who is going to work hard, who is going to keep developing, who is going to be coachable.

I think we put more stake into that, more ownership into that. Because of that, we've had players that have come that haven't been ranked as high, Taurean Prince just signed an extension, close to $30 million. He was a guy that was ranked 25th in the state coming out, going to Long Island University. Didn't start until his senior year. Was a great player for us. But coming in, people wouldn't have known who he was.

Royce O'Neale might start for the Utah Jazz, transfer from Denver, coming out of high school was a zero start guy by some scouting services.

I think our staff has done a better job in really looking into the intangible part, who fits our program, who is going to be coachable, keep working hard, develop, who would we want to have a part of our program.

Some of those guys aren't ranked, some of them are.

Q. The SEC challenge has been going on for a while now. What are your thoughts on that? Do you still like it, dislike it?
SCOTT DREW: After the game you can ask me and I'll tell you (laughter).

I think it's a great thing for our league. It's quality games, home and road, with a new net. It does nothing but help both leagues, both conferences.

You love the Big 12 competing against another top league in the country, being able to see how we stack up and compare. That and the Big East challenges are things I think are tremendous for our league. No matter if you win or lose the game, it helps your team prepare for Big 12 play, it helps you for having a chance to be in the post-season.

I know fans enjoy watching quality games, and players like playing in them.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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