By Zach Smart
A look into Jeremy Baker’s cell phone says it all. Every significant player to emerge from the Washington, D.C.-area, all of whom Baker still maintains close ties with, is somewhere along the list. Roy Hibbert. From Michael Beasley, the surefire first-round pick in this year’s NBA draft, to Roy Hibbert, who’s also certain 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 homeboys far from his presence.
He’s more D.C. than the Whitehouse. Maryland-bred players know Baker like a surrogate family member. Hooping on some of the city’s toughest courts and most competitive tournaments while playing alongside 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 his D.C. roots. Baker spent his first two seasons in the country’s woodworks, helping a pair of junior colleges in Texas and Kansas garner some national visibility.
The cousin 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 super-athletic 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 on the Quinnipiac landscape.
Oh and while we’re on it, Evann Baker, the Quinnipiac guard who averaged 11 points and handed 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.
Baker is a transfer via Garden City Community College, a member of the mega-competitive Jayhawk Community Conference. After surfacing as one of the conferences 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 a first team All-Conference selection and JUCO All-American candidate.
The Bobcats will need every ounce of this defensive prowess. They registered amongst the worst in team defense in the NEC 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 was sorely lacking at times. The Bobcats will look to right the ship by plugging “JB” (as he’s known to the Quinnipiac outside world) into the starting lineup.
Moore 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 plugged in as a small forward next season. With last year’s starting point guard, Casey Cosgrove, weighing his transfer options, Baker could also be called upon to operate the offense.
Quinnipiac’s image was recently tinged with reports of 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 and it has slightly hampered the program that Tom Moore (the former UConn assistant) 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. With Baker, along with guards Andrew Cashin (Dean’s List) and Steve Robinson (Dean’s List) setting the tone in the classroom this year, Quinnipiac hopes to right the ship in that department as well.
From Nate Pondexter to Anderson, the Northeast Conference school situated in Hamden, Conn., has become a pipeline for some for some of the city’s most overlooked players.
And with the recent signing of Harold Washington, a guard from Brandywine, Md., it looks as if the beat will continue.
Baker has seen his buddies and former teammates prosper at that next level. Still unknown outside of the D.C. landscape, it appears to be Baker’s turn.