CINCINNATI — MaCio Teague is leaving nothing to chance this season.
The Baylor University senior guard and 2015 Walnut Hills High School graduate knows all too well how the 2019-20 college basketball season ended prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Whether it's an SEC school or whether it's like a low-major school, it doesn't matter," Teague said. "Just going in and trying to play every game like it's my last. Like last year, you never know when the last game will be."
That mentality has helped Teague and Baylor this winter, a year after the Bears were ranked No. 1 nationally for five consecutive weeks in the 2019-20 season.
Baylor has a 17-0 record and a No. 2 national ranking this year.
"It's been a tremendous time playing with the guys," Teague said. "We're having a lot of success early, and I feel like we're living up to the hype, but we still got a long ways to go to reach our fullest potential."
Teague's versatility on both ends of the floor has been significant to the Bears.
"I think if you look at the statistics, you can see where he's improved as far as shooting or efficiency," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "The things that coaching-wise that don't show up in the stat book all the time is his rebounding attempts. He does a great job going a lot more to the glass. He does a much better job blocking out."
Teague, named a finalist for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award, averages 15 points and four rebounds. He is shooting nearly 48% from the field and 86% from the free-throw line.
"He plays at a pace," said Walnut Hills coach Ricardo Hill. "Like you can't speed MaCio up. You can't make him play faster than what he wants to play. So he's always had that change of pace, and he always looked like he's in control."
Hill, who connects with Teague by phone on a weekly basis, is equally impressed by Teague's defensive effort.
"So he's always been efficient and all that, but just his defense -- man, that kid has been playing defense," Hill said. "We used to get on him about playing 'D' and whatever. If you watch their games, he's guarding the three and sometimes the four man. So he's guarding guys bigger and stronger, and he's locking them up."
Teague's performance is certainly gaining national attention.
He conducted interviews with 10 NBA teams during the draft process last year before he decided in late July 2020 to return to Baylor for his senior season.
Teague knew there was a special opportunity for the Bears this season when he returned. There is a difference in his game now, too. He says his shooting has improved, and he's using his length to impact opponent's shots and passing lanes.
"He's a lot crisper on his rotations," Drew said. "He's one of our best talkers and communicators. And then the efficiency on the offensive end this year -- he's really good with one, two, three dribbles or less -- creating offense and punching gaps and driving closeouts. That's something that I know when he looked at with the NBA they wanted to see him be more efficient with less bounces and he's really done that."
Teague also has received plenty of attention from Greater Cincinnati.
"Definitely it's a lot of love coming from the city," Teague said. "After every game it's mostly my friends from back home just hitting me up after the game saying, 'Good game, feel like you could've done this, you could've done that.' Coach Cardo (Ricardo Hill) is always very supportive whether I do great, whether I do just OK -- you know, Coach Cardo is always in my corner."
Hill said he can't go far without someone mentioning the former Walnut Hills standout.
"The notoriety that he's brought to the city, to the school -- it's just huge, man," Hill said. "Like everywhere we go someone is bringing him up, talking about him. And he just has a huge following from people in the city."