Winning back-to-back national championships is notoriously difficult. Only seven programs have done it since the NCAA Tournament began in 1939, and only two (2006-07 Florida, 1991-92 Duke) since UCLA’s streak of seven straight titles from 1967-1973.
Although the 2021-22 Baylor Bears are up against history in their quest to defend their title, they believe they have the pieces to accomplish just that.
Despite the departure of key pieces like Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell, MaCio Teague and Mark Vital, Baylor coach Scott Drew has deployed another talented and experienced group of players. Baylor boasts three seniors and one junior in its starting five, and together the Bears have racked up a 25-5 record. They’re the No. 3 team in the latest AP poll as the season plays out its final week of the regular season.
Junior guard Adam Flagler has been Baylor’s go-to weapon this season, averaging a team-leading 13.9 points per game, to go along with 3.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
Adam Flagler puts on a clinic in an OT road win against Oklahoma State🔥 @adamflagler
– 29 points
– 7-13 3PT pic.twitter.com/4AGyIl4ctd
— B/R Hoops (@brhoops) February 22, 2022
Flagler didn’t start a single game last season as Baylor cruised to a national title, but he was a key scoring option off the bench (9.1 points per game). He notched 13 points in the 86-70 title-game win against Gonzaga. Last season was the first in which he was eligible to participate after transferring from Presbyterian College, where he played his freshman season in 2018-19.
In December, Flagler was asked about his decision to transfer to Baylor in a podcast series highlighting Baylor athletes.
“A lot of people think it’s just basketball,” Flagler said, “but basketball was the third thing I was thinking about. Baylor is such an amazing community spiritually. I am a believer, and I knew that this place would be a perfect place for me to expand, to get out of my comfort zone.”
Flagler said he also wanted to come to Baylor to pursue his dream of being a pediatrician after his basketball days are over, because Baylor is renowned for its medical school. Only thirdly, he knew he would be pushed on the court by Butler, Mitchell, Teague and the talented Baylor guards who came before him.
Now, Flagler says, he’s improved on the court, he’s closer to his career aspirations, and most importantly, he’s grown closer to God.
“Being able to depend on Somebody other than myself and have a Source that never, ever judges me and never, ever doubts me and sees the best in me all the time, it’s so special,” Flagler said on the podcast. “I’m able to go out there and play freely.”
At Baylor, Flagler says he has been reading his Bible more and leaning on a coaching staff that truly cares about him and points him to Christ. He said the culture of J.O.Y. (Jesus, Others, Yourself) that Coach Drew and the rest of the coaches have created has not only glorified God but has united the team around a true love for one another and sacrificial service for each other.
“I give all the glory to God,” Flagler said on the podcast. “Always.”
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Baylor will host Iowa State (20-9) on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET in its final game of the regular season. The Bears hold a half-game lead over Kansas for the Big 12 title, but the Jayhawks have two games remaining. Baylor and Kansas each won at home in the regular-season series.
Meanwhile, Flagler hasn’t indicated whether he will go pro or return for his senior year. Before that decision needs to be made, however, he aims to lead the Bears back to the top of the college basketball world.
– Baylor men’s basketball up to No. 1 after 9-0 start, remains focused on serving others
– Baylor men’s basketball, coach Scott Drew set out to defend title with culture of J.O.Y.
– SS PODCAST: Baylor basketball coach Scott Drew on national title, culture of J.O.Y.
– All-American Jared Butler declares for NBA Draft, thanks Jesus for time at Baylor
– Culture of ‘Jesus, Others, Yourself’ helps Baylor win 1st men’s national championship