Let's get to the most urgent stuff first regarding BYU men's basketball.

The Cougars, going through finals right now, will take a break Wednesday to participate in the 12th-annual Children with Cancer Christmas Foundation's party.

Each year the foundation collects monetary donations and unwrapped toys that go directly towards a Christmas party for more than 40 families living primarily in Utah County who have children with cancer. This year’s party will be held at the Vivint Gym at 6 p.m. Coach Dave Rose and his wife Cheryl are major players in the event.

Donations can still be made: Online at cccf.me.

Monetary donations and unwrapped toys are also being accepted at Pizza Factory in Provo and at the men's basketball office in the Marriott Center (from main arena entrance, turn left).

It's one of the highlights for the Cougars each season, and always seems to give them a boost as they're fighting through the long days of basketball-related activities and testing.


We'll have more as the week progresses, but I was fortunate to get an interview Monday morning with Baylor head coach Scott Drew.

The Bears are undefeated and play at home against Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday night before making the trip to Provo for Saturday's clash.

It's possible to argue the Bears are over-rated at this point, considering the schedule and heavy slate of home games, though this squad definitely is worthy of attention. It defeated San Diego State on Nov. 15, by 10 points at home. Before breaking for finals, Baylor won Dec. 4 at Northwestern in suburban Chicago, 69-41.

Drew, a master recruiter, has two players that could get picked high in the 2012 NBA draft. The Bears are athletic, long, and love to run. They'll also play their fair share of zone defense.

Baylor's non-conference schedule is actually back-loaded. After traveling to Provo, it'll also visit West Virginia while getting nationally ranked Mississippi State to visit Waco, Texas.

"We need a quality opponent to get us ready for (Big 12) conference play," Drew said. "I know what kind of program BYU is, and this should be a great test."

Drew knows the state of Utah from his days at Valparaiso, an Indiana school that competed in the same conference as Southern Utah.

This game was produced late in the scheduling process for Baylor, and the Cougars will return the visit next season.


It's not often that BYU fails to have one of at least the top two players on the court. But that could be the case at noon on Saturday.

Baylor brings in Perry Jones, a 6-foot-11 sophomore forward. He's currently pegged to be picked 6th in next summer's NBA draft according to one mock-draft website. Jones was a highly talented, young player like Ohio State's Jared Sullinger or North Carolina's Harrison Barnes that may have been drafted high last summer but appeared to be scared off by the imminent NBA lockout.

Then there's Quincy Miller, a 6-9 freshman small forward who nbadraft.net pegs to be picked 11th.

So BYU will have work in the post.

But also watch the point-guard spot. In a unique mid-season matchup, both teams could be breaking in new starting point guards.

The Cougars, you probably know by now, will have Matt Carlino eligible. He never played a regular-season game at UCLA, so he will be getting his first collegiate minutes.

Baylor will get the services of Gary Franklin Jr., a highly recruited player out of famed Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif. 

He played 13 games at Cal, 11 of which he started before becoming a reserve in his final two.

He was fifth on the team in scoring, averaging 8.2 points. But he was known as an inefficient scorer, converting 24 of his 82 3-point attempts.

Baylor's Drew said he was familiar with Carlino from the recruiting process. He was quiet about how much Franklin could impact his rotation.

Jason Franchuk can be reached at jfranchuk@heraldextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter, @harkthefranchuk