Potomac State’s Baker excels on and off the court
By Michael Minnich- Mineral Daily News Tribune firstname.lastname@example.org
KEYSER, WV—Potomac State’s Reggie Baker can flat-out fill it.
The sophomore from Avon Park, Fla. is currently ranked tenth in NJCAA Division II in scoring at a rate of 23.9 points per game and is slotted in the top 80 nationally in field goals made (169, 43rd), made threes (45, 79th), free throws made (119, 35th) and free throw percentage (82.6, 31st).
It’s a leap from last year, when Baker was PSC’s top scorer at 18.6 points per game.
“From my freshman year to this year, I’ve improved tremendously,” said Baker. “My game has come on. I’ve gotten stronger and faster. I’ve learned what to do and what not to do. My freshman year, I was new to it, so a lot of things had to change. This year, I’m calmer, more relaxed, more patient.”
That idea of the game slowing down for Baker is something that coach Justin Anderson sees in him as well.
“Reggie is a great athlete,” said Anderson. “This year, it’s been all about getting him to play smarter and under control. He’s making great decisions.”
Baker is the focal point of an offense that’s averaging just under 85 points a game en route to a 16-8 record entering Wednesday night.
“It’s a great system to play in. It fits my game,” said Baker. “Coach Anderson knew that I was an up-and-down player. This is the type of game that we play.”
Anderson said that Baker’s not forcing anything to get his points, either.
“He gets his shots in the flow of the offense,” said Anderson. “There are nights where we know he’s getting his points, and we look down and he’s got 35 or 40, just by taking good shots.”
“My teammates look for me. I’ve just got to knock down those open shots,” said Baker.
Baker moved onto the radar of Anderson, who played JUCO ball in Florida and still has many connections in the Sunshine State, with a strong AAU tournament after his senior season.
“I had a really good tournament,” said Baker with a smile. “My AAU coach contacted me after the tournament was over with, and he said I would be reaching a call from Coach Anderson, that he was interested in signing me.”
“Everything from the jump just seemed sincere. He seemed honest in everything he was telling me,” said Baker about that first conversation with Anderson. “It was his first year here and my first year, so I decided it was the best fit for me.”
A change of scenery was high on Baker’s wish list. “I had offers back home, but I didn’t want to be back home if it wasn’t a Division I school,” said Baker. “So I just went out of state. I was looking for a new experience.”
Maybe not one quite this snowy, though.
“No snow in Florida, man,” laughed Baker. “I had to get used to this. I’m born and raised in Florida, so this is a whole different environment in West Virginia. It’s really different.”
Baker has also excelled in the small classroom atmosphere of Potomac State.
“I’ve got a 3.1 GPA overall right now, so I’ve just got to finish this semester off strong and get my A.A. I’ve just got to stay focused and do all the right things,” said Baker, who is a sport management major. “It’s hard to be a student and an athlete. You’ve got practice and class and games and tests. On and off the court, you’ve got to be focused and dedicated. The academics come first.”
After basketball? “I want to be a sports agent if my Plan A [of playing] doesn’t work. I want to stay involved with basketball.”
His skills are going to take him somewhere new next year, but the final stretch run of this season is his priority, he says.
“I’ve had Division I offers, and Division II offers, too, but I’m just waiting until after the season is over. I don’t want to pile all that stress on me right now. I want to enjoy basketball,” said Baker. “Maryland-Eastern Shore is looking at me. They’re a Division I school. Virginia Union is looking at me; they’re a D-II school. University of Charleston, a couple of schools back home….Bethany in West Virginia, Mary Chester in New York.”
“It’s a blessing. All of those offers are a blessing,” said Baker.
Potomac State has already exceeded their win total from last year and grabbed a big scalp two weeks ago with a 77-71 win over then-No. 2 CCBC Beaver.
“We can do really well if we do all the little things,” said Baker. “I feel like it’s a ballgame for us, we can win. We can go in the tournament and do some damage. As long as we do the things Coach tells us to do, we can win.”
“We’re clicking right now. We beat the No. 2 team in the nation. That gave us even more confidence in ourselves,” said Baker.