Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Welcome To The Bakeshow

Baker The Elder Statesman For Bobcats


A look into Jeremy Baker’s cell phone says it all.
Every card shop-name player to emerge from the Washington, D.C.-area, all of whom Baker still maintains close ties with, sits somewhere along his laundry-list of contacts.
From Michael Beasley, the surefire top-two pick in this year’s NBA draft, to Roy Hibbert, who’s also likely to be playing in a district far from the 2-0-2, 2-4-0, or 3-0-1, next year, Baker never keeps his "home"boys far from his presence.
The kid is more D.C. than the Whitehouse. Maryland-bred players know Baker like a surrogate family member. Playing on some of the city’s toughest courts and most competitive tournaments while running with Hibbert and company on the Blue Devils AAU circuit, Baker has been there every step of the way.
His pin-point passes and hounding defense, however, has taken the 6-foot-2 combination guard well beyond the D.C. landscape.
Under the tutelage of Walter Ray, the founder and director of E.G.O.S. (Educations, Goals, Opportunities in Sports), Baker was able to blossom. Ray, who has essentially established a launchpad to a Division-I scholarship with his program, took Baker under his wing. Ray, whose primary focus is to send top-flight players (many of whom slipped underneath the recruiting radar) to schools (see Hibbert, Roy or Skinn, Tony, the man who helped lift George Mason from obscurity in 2006), allowed Baker to develop and refine all facets of his game. To this day, Baker credits Ray, whose sent a handful of his players to Quinnipiac, for his evolution as a player.
Baker spent his first two seasons entrenched in the country’s woodworks, helping a pair of junior colleges in Texas and Kansas garner some national visibility.
The close friend of former Quinnipiac point guard Rob Monroe, who authored a legendary four-year stay with the Bobcats, and the childhood friend of DeMario Anderson, the ultra-athletic wing and mid-major All-American who averaged 21 points in leading the Bobcats to a playoff berth this season, Baker seems like the next D.C. product primed to make a big splash at Quinnipiac.
Oh and while we’re on it, Evann Baker, the Quinnipiac guard who averaged 11 points and dished out 70 assists en route to being named to the Northeast Conference All-Rookie team, is the younger brother of Jeremy. Evann is the third oldest Baker in a basketball bloodline that stems from 4th and Delafield in the NorthWest branch of Washington, D.C.
Baker is a transfer via Garden City Community College, a member of the mega-competitive Jayhawk Conference. After surfacing as one of the conference leaders in assists (3.5) while shouldering the onus to lock down the opposing team’s top scorer, Baker concluded his stop at Garden City with a first team All-Conference selection. Baker also garnered some national recognition, materializing as a JUCO All-American candidate.
The Bobcats will need every ounce of this defensive prowess.
They registered amongst the NEC's worst in team defense in last season, notorious for surrendering career nights to wild cards like Mark Socoby (Maine), Eric Gilchrese (New Hampshire), and Joe Seymour (Central Connecticut State).
The emphasis on perimeter defense has been sorely lacking. The Bobcats will look to right the ship in that category, plugging “JB” (as he’s known to the Quinnipiac outside world) into the starting lineup.
Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore, who served under Jim Calhoun at UConn, has said he’s comfortable with Baker operating the offense or holding down the swingman position.
On a team that’s front-loaded with guards, Baker is likely to be inserted as a small forward next season.
Yet with last year’s starting point guard, Casey Cosgrove, weighing his transfer options, Baker could also be called upon to operate the offense. Wherever he's at on the court, he understands what his role will be. Locate the team's go-to-guy and deny, deny, deny. It's a method he's subscribed to since his days on the AAU scene.
Quinnipiac’s image was recently tinged with recent reports and articles about an ailing Academic Progress Rate.
In the NCAA’s recent APR announcement, it was declared that Quinnipiac will lose two scholarships over the next two years. Three of the five seniors from the 2006-2007 Quinnipiac team that former coach Joe DeSantis molded failed to graduate.
This has hampered the program that Tom Moore inherited this season.
Baker, who had to sit out this year due to NCAA transfer rules, clocked a 2.5 GPA in his first semester at the University. A sociology major with the emblematic sociologist perspective, Baker said he’d like to revive the image for the future. A sparkling 3,500-seat arena is a seductive recruiting tool that the ailing APR rate hopefully won't get the better of.
The Bobcats, who now have an academic advisor for the team, went with a 10 and 11-man rotation during games last season and will need these scholarships.
From Nate Pondexter to Anderson, the Northeast Conference school situated in Hamden, Conn., has become a Maryland pipeline for some for some of the city’s most overlooked players.
With Ray's influence on the program, in addition to the recent signing of Harold Washington (a blink-quick guard from Brandywine, Md.) the beat looks to continue.
Baker has seen his buddies and former teammates perform at that next level. Still unknown outside of one big city and two small, rickety suburbs, it appears to be Baker’s turn.