Men's Basketball: Baker sets sights on next level
|Reggie Baker (right) signs to take his talents to Newman University. Joining Baker is Potomac State Head Men's Basketball Coach Justin Anderson|
By Michael Minnich for the Mineral County News-Tribune
KEYSER, WV—The basketball journey of Reggie Baker continues.
The former PSC sophomore from Avon Park, Fla., will continue his career at Division II Newman University in Wichita, Kansas, signing a letter-of-intent recently.
“Basically, the atmosphere when I went there on my visit,” said Baker. “The coaches, the athletic director, the players, the school. Everything just felt good. I prayed and asked God to lead me in the right direction, and whatever my gut feeling, I was going to go with.”
Baker helped Potomac State to a regional championship and the program’s first-ever win at the NJCAA national tournament this spring, averaging 24.3 points per game, good for ninth in the country.
Baker also was in the top 100 in the nation in steals, free throws made, free throw percentage, made threes, and made field goals.
Baker was named MVP of the Region XX tournament and made first-team all-region.
“That’s what it’s all about. A young man comes to Potomac State, and that is the goal from the first day that they come here. Reggie followed through from Day 1,” said PSC head coach Justin Anderson. “I’ve always said, we’re looking for a young man that wants to start his college career off on the right foot with good citizenship and is not afraid to work hard. And Reggie did those things and went above and beyond.”
Anderson’s style—and Baker’s—is also the way that Newman likes to play.
“They play up-tempo. They press a lot. They shoot a lot of threes. And that’s basically how I play as well,” said Baker. “The coach is a very good coach. He’s down-to-earth. He lets his guys play their game. I just feel like it’s a perfect fit for me.”
“Reggie’s been heavily recruited by Division I and Division II schools. The biggest thing is academically, we wanted him to finish his degree. That’s the number one goal that we talk to all of our student-athletes about: what are you going to do when the ball doesn’t bounce anymore?” said Anderson. “Newman University gave him that opportunity. They made a commitment to Reggie that if he’s in good academic standing after two years and he needs a third year to graduate, they’re going to give him that to get his degree. That makes it all worth it.”
According to Anderson, it costs $34,000 a year to attend the private school, making that commitment even more important.
“That’s a plus. I want to go somewhere where I can fit. Division I was one of my goals, but in the end the fit was what mattered to me: somewhere where I can play and win a championship,” said Baker.
The Jets went 9-17 last year.
That trip to nationals in Danville, Illinois was key to Baker’s recruiting.
“They saw me at nationals. They didn’t even know who I was before then, so that was a big thing,” said Baker. “It’s a blessing, man. I thank God for all my blessings. Everything happens for a reason.”
“It was a great experience. That’s where you want to be,” said Baker. “I got to show my talent and play with my teammates for a national championship. That’s what you aim for. I’ll always remember it.”
Anderson takes great pride in Baker’s advancement to the next level.
“You come here for two years, and you develop not only as a player but as a person. The two years is definitely a time where you learn a lot about yourself, who you are as a student, and what your goals are. And Reggie did just that,” said Anderson. “He’s signing to go on to play for two more years and that’s what it’s all about.”
For a player that’s already left the Sunshine State for the Mountain State, adding the plains to his resume is not a big deal.
“It’s crazy how everything has ended up. Coming from Florida to West Virginia, that was a big jump. And now I’m going from Florida to West Virginia to Kansas,” said Baker. “It doesn’t bother me. I can adapt.”