Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ian Baker Keeps Family Tradition Intact at New Mexico State

One-time Providence commit Ian Baker is flourishing at New Mexico State, averaging 14.4 points, four boards and three assists.

Baker's natural poise in the clutch, a trait which earned him the "Ian Baker The Big Shot Maker" line as a sophomore, have continued to elevate his profile.

Baker was the engine that propelled New Mexico State to an 84-71 victory over New Mexico, as he shot 8-for-16 and buried four treys.

The veteran senior scored 20 points en route to a 79-68 win over UTEP.

The bigger the stage, the bigger he plays.

This has been the theme for Baker thus far his senior season.

And so Baker followed the UTEP performance up with 19 points, eight boards, and seven assists during an 81-70 statement win at Arizona State.

Baker's cerebral feel and wisdom for the game emanates from the D.C. native's five older brothers. All have been instrumental in his development, pushing him every step of the way.

By the time Baker reached high school, family success on the hardwood morphed into major motivation.

Two of Baker's six older brothers, Jeremy and Evann, were both instrumental in leading Quinnipiac out of the Northeast Conference's lower percentile and into a first-ever berth in the title game.

Both Baker brothers helped alter the perception of a downtrodden QU program. They were each mainstays during the lone bright period of a mediocre era.

Jeremy, a 6-foot-3 guard known for unparalleled confrontational defense and poise during pressure-filled moments, solidified a young core with veteran leadership.

Evann rapidly emerged into the team's second-leading scorer as a freshman, only to suffer a debilitating career-ending injury that spring.

The injury's one silver lining, however, was  it helped springboard him to the coaching world. He is currently a graduate assistant at Penn State.

Ian's older brother Travis Baker averaged 18 points, five boards, and four assists during an All-County career at High Point H.S. in Beltsville, MD.

Ian's other older brother, Corey Baker, was a versatile guard who authored a career at Garden City Community College in the plenty tough Jayhawk Conference.

Ryan Baker, the oldest of all six brothers, was a local street ball legend whose computer smarts paved his way out of the hardscrabble and unforgiving streets of Fourth and Delafield in uptown D.C.

Baker's cousin, Jerome Dyson of Rockville, Md., was a hard slashing, strong finishing guard under Jim Calhoun at UConn. Dyson had a shot at the NBA, albeit injuries derailed his career path. UConn earned a final four berth during that era, but couldn't take the big prize until Kemba Walker piloted a significantly less talented team in 2011.

At the helm of Baker's support system is his mother, Cheryl Baker.

 Rarely has Cheryl missed one of her sons games through the years, even as a year round schedule gets consuming.

As a HS sophomore, Ian Baker transferred to Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, FL.

Under the late and legendary Rex Morgan, who built the program into a heavily scrutinized national power, Baker averaged 16 PPG as a pass-happy point guard.

By his senior year, Baker's game was earning the notice of high-major programs such as Seton Hall, West Virginia, and Providence.

Baker tested the NBA draft waters as a junior, only to return to school following minimal interest.

 This season, if the New Mexico State guard continues to thrive on the bigger stages as March nears, the NBA does not seem like a far fetched possibility.