The hype is palpable in Omaha, Nebraska, as the Creighton Bluejays improve an already stacked roster with the addition of Baylor Scheierman, a 6’ 6” versatile flame-throwing wing who fits Creighton’s scheme like a glove.
Scheierman, a Nebraska native, earned Summit League Player of the Year last season for the Jackrabbits, averaging 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 4.5 assists, while shooting 46.9% from 3-point range. His advanced metrics are equally impressive, ranking 31st in offensive rating and 33rd in true shooting percentage. He also ranked first in the Summit League in assist rate, and top-6 in defensive rebounding rate and steal percentage.
The SDSU transfer makes a whole lot of sense for both sides, at least on paper. Creighton has Final Four hopes as it brings back four freshman/sophomore phenoms from a team that took eventual-national champion Kansas to the wire in the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament, all without Ryan Kalkbrenner. And while the team grew together and became a true force towards the end of the year, Creighton loses two key pieces to graduation—Ryan Hawkins and Alex O’Connell.
Scheierman can immediately come in and fill the void left by Hawkins, arguably Crieghton’s best player last year. With his switchability and shooting prowess, Creighton will be playing free and fast, and still able to protect the rim with 7’ 1” Kalkbrenner holding down the paint. The Blue Jays ranked top-20 in defensive efficiency, and should be able to maintain that while vastly improving on the offensive end, through Scheierman’s shooting and further development of their young stars. Scheierman’s shooting is desperately needed for a Creighton team that was uncharacteristically poor from three, ranking just 305th in three-point shooting percentage.
Frankly, I don’t see a better starting rotation than the one Creighton will deploy next year. If the team is able to stay healthy, I see no reason they can’t compete for a Big East Championship and Final Four berth.
Early prediction on Creighton's 22-23 starting five:— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) May 3, 2022
Ryan Nembhard, Trey Alexander, Baylor Scheierman, Arthur Kaluma, Ryan Kalkbrenner https://t.co/ZPT3Ixn9vp
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the valid criticisms of Creighton’s hype for next season. For one, Creighton has never advanced past the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Of course, they’ve never had anywhere near the talent level they will have next year. But the fact remains that winning in March is very difficult, and if last year is any indication, the teams that know how to do it will continue to beat up on upstart newcomers. That is...until they don’t.
Then there are a few reality-checks to address, as pointed out by Jim Root of Three Man Weave.
A couple facts worth remembering about Creighton:— Jim Root (@2ndChancePoints) May 3, 2022
-Never once cracked the KenPom top 45 in 2021-22
-Ranked 66th entering the game Ryan Nembhard got hurt
-Ryan Hawkins was frequently the best player
-trailed 8-seed SDSU by 9 w/ 3 min left
-SDSU the only top 50 non-conf win
While these are all fair points, I think that stats & metrics don’t tell the full story. The Creighton team we saw in February and March was not the same team we saw in November. I believe Creighton dug themselves into a bit of a hole analytically simply by not being able to separate in their wins, and dropping some early conference games. The Jays started 5-5 in the Big East before winning 7 of their last 9 to finish 12-7 in conference play.
Baylor Scheierman clearly brings a lot to the table for Creighton, but what’s in it for him? Well for starters, he still has pro aspirations. While he has already showcased a skillset—elite shooting and passing, versatility, great off-ball movement, and rebounding—that should translate to the NBA, he needs to prove he can do this all against quality competition. The Big East is a great platform to exhibit his talent, and he also needs to prove he’s not a liability on defense.
Beyond proving himself as a prospect, Scheierman also expressed admiration for Creighton’s style of play, and he wants to win. “I decided to commit to Creighton because I really like how they play,” Scheierman told ESPN. “They are an unselfish team who really share the ball, and that’s what I’m used to and I enjoy playing that way. They also let their guys play free and loose, and I feel like I play my best in that type of system.
“They said I’m that missing piece that can take them to a national championship — and better yet, I can do it at home,” Scheierman said.
Time will tell if Creighton can overcome its tournament woes and advance past the Sweet 16. It’s entirely possible they falter and can’t live up to the hype, a la Purdue of last season. But for Blue Jay fans, there is every reason to be thrilled about the prospect of this team next year.