Chris Murray of Nevada Sports Net will break down each of Nevada’s 13 eligible stock players ahead of the Wolf Pack basketball team’s season opener on November 9 against Eastern Washington. We will count players alphabetically using their last names. Today’s player: Will Baker.
To classify: Second year
Size weight: 7-0 / 245
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Statistics 2020-21: Did not play (averaged 2.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg in 8.3 mpg over 22 Texas games in 2019-20, shooting 27.5% from the field and 15.4% from three)
Likely role: Baker is a 7 foot wild card for the Wolf Pack. It’s hard to predict how he will fare in Nevada after wrestling in Texas. But he was a freshman in the Big 12 who didn’t have consistent playing time, so it’s hard to read too much in his 2019-20 campaign when he spent at least 15 minutes just three times. Baker struggled with his shot at all three levels, hitting just 27.5% from the field, 15.4% from three and 33.3% from the free throw line. Baker joined the Wolf Pack in the middle of last season, and Nevada worked to iron out the left-hander’s shot (that’s an area of expertise for head coach Steve Alford). If the Wolf Pack helps him become a regular shooter at this size, he could be lethal. Baker was a solid rebounder in Texas and is billed as the best passing player of the Wolf Pack. He is an above average athlete for his height and has a diverse skill set. Baker likely starts the season off the bench behind greats Warren Washington and KJ Hymes, but the potential is there for him to be an impact player, whether as a starter or a reserve. Preseason MW Player of the Year Grant Sherfield helped recruit Baker – both from Texas – to Nevada and thinks the Wolf Pack has added a gem.
“In Texas when you play AAU you always see great players and you meet at camps or tournaments so I knew Will before that,” Sherfield said during MW Media Days. “It was really easy to recruit him here. He really liked Coach Alford, he knew what we had in return. It was really obvious to him. I think he fits in perfectly with the team. team, and I think he’s going to be really important to us this year. “
Key number: 5 – This is the number of recruiting stars awarded to Baker by Rivals.com upon leaving high school, making Baker the third five-star player to adapt to Nevada, joining Luke Babbitt (he reached the NBA) and Jordan Brown (this is his third college team). The journey of these two players shows that being a five-star rookie isn’t a sure bet for success, despite Brown being the sixth Pac-12 Man of the Year last season. Adding Baker, who had UCLA as his second college out of high school when Alford was the Bruins’ head coach, was a no-brainer for Nevada. Rarely does the school obtain a player with so much pure talent. Now the Wolf Pack must extract that from him so he can become a conference player of any caliber in the West Mountain.
Sports columnist Chris Murray provides an overview of northern Nevada sports. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.