1. Baylor’s backcourt is loaded with Pierre Jackson, Brady Heslip, Deuce Bello, A.J. Walton and Gary Franklin. The Bears’ success will be determined by how quickly the frontcourt develops. Well, Baylor coach Scott Drew said junior Cory Jefferson, freshmen Ricardo Gathers and heralded recruit Isaiah Austin have lived up to their preseason hype. Drew said Gathers has lost 20 pounds while Austin has added 12. He said Gathers is looking more like a Quincy Acy-type force inside. The depth took a hit with a hamstring injury to J’mison Morgan. But Austin is the stud of the group that could be a difference maker.
2. Maryland’s Pe’Shon Howard was cleared last week to go full speed after tearing his ACL in his right knee in February. Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said Howard will be full speed. Meanwhile, Turgeon said Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz has done a tremendous job of leading in workouts, even though he’s not eligible to play this season. “He’s assumed a leadership role,’’ said Turgeon.
3. UCLA announced that guard Tyler Lamb is out for the next month while he has his left knee scoped. Official practice starts Friday and the Bruins still don’t have an official word on the eligibility of freshmen Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson. There is still plenty of time -- a month before the opener against Indiana State. But the Bruins simply cannot afford to get off to a slow start with a game against Georgetown in Brooklyn on Nov. 19 that could derail a proposed showdown with Indiana in the same event. The schedule still has power-rating pops against San Diego State in Anaheim and at Texas as well as a home game against Missouri. But this team needs to build confidence early and losing the depth has suddenly become a serious question. Injuries and eligibility must be cleared up by mid-November at the latest to avoid an early-season crisis.