Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Brother's Keeper: Ian Baker Creates His Own Path To New Mexico State


Is Ian Baker his brother’s keeper?

 I’m not for certain, but what I do know is…

The 6-foot guard is the youngest in a Washington, D.C.-bred clan of brotherly ballers. Baker possesses the playmaking ability and enough DMV pressure-steering grit to augment New Mexico State's backcourt.

 He’s no longer the little kid in the stands, witnessing his older brothers ply their trade.

 Shaped by five older brothers, each of whom was quick to help expunge his flaws and push his development, his game has been akin to his attitude—level headed.

He's emerged from a brand name basketball family, in a rugged climate. Baker grew up watching local players such as Roy Hibbert, Ty Lawson, Dante Cunningham, Tony Skinn, Rob Monroe, and plenty others from Maryland/DC's regal basketball real estate.

 The park proving grounds are about a five minute walk from the Baker residence. Basketball consumes Baker, in a family where you simply can never get enough of it.

 Being the youngest is never easy; thick skin is essential. He knows the constructive criticism, the constant coaching, the evaluations are only to help him thrive.

In Baker’s case, he’s been on the various recruiting trips, watched the family films, and answered to the inevitable expectations. He's sidestepped the comparisons and pressure that comes with it.

He’s also created his own path to Las Cruces, N.M.

At Arlington Country Day High School in Florida, Baker averaged 16 points and five assists, helping the Apaches earn a berth in the state championship game. Originally a Providence-commit, Baker was first team All-State.

 “He would be good in any conference in the country because he has that toughness running through his blood,” said Jeremy Baker, Ian’s older brother and a known lockdown defender at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.

 “Growing up and playing along the DMV landscape, being able to survive in that high-level basketball climate, he’s come a long way. It’s easy to get lost in the wind. But he has the older brothers there to push him to be the best and he takes pride in that.”

Now, Baker may have all the essential attributes to evolve into the most promising. Not bad, given the burdensome basketball bloodline.

Ian’s other brother Travis averaged 18 points, four dimes, and five boards at High Point High School in Beltsville, Md. Travis Baker earned All-County, turning in two 25-point performances against Oxon Hill. His other brother, Evann Baker, played at Quinnipiac and was a Northeast Conference All-Rookie First Team selection before sustaining a career-hampering injury. Evann Baker currently coaches at Archbishop Carrol High in Northeast D.C.

So, is Ian Baker his brothers’ keeper?

Manufacturing offense is in his nature, albeit he’s become a more aggressive scorer.

Baker transferred to Arlington Country Day from Proctor Academy in New Hampshire, where his second cousin (former UConn guard) Jerome Dyson played.

If you get invited to an extended Baker family barbeque, bringing a new Spalding Infusion ball would probably get you one of the first-cooked burgers.

“When it comes to basketball, since he was the baby and he got to see everybody go through, he’s got like a basketball old soul,” explained longtime D.C. basketball guru Walter Ray III, the founder and president of E.G.O.S. (Education, Goals, Opportunities In Sports).

“That’s what his strength is, experience. As far as talent goes, his talent is right there with the rest of them. He gets to kind of incorporate that into the wisdom and knowledge and experience thing that you get from having older brothers. That just adds to what he is, because most of these players now have robotic games. Now he can play instinctively. Like I said, he’s seen some of the best. He's even been out there against me getting his ass busted.”