Thursday, June 29, 2006

Michigan Finds a Point Guard. I Think.

Um... Welcome?

Michigan is expected to announced the signing of point guard Reed Baker (Bishop Verot, FL) in the next few days. If you stopped drinking your coffee the second you read this, then reached to scratch your head and ask "who is this guy?" you're not alone.

Because Zach Gibson's recent commit to Michigan was through a transfer, he'll eat his own tuition this coming year and go on scholarship in 2007. Thus, a single scholarship remained open for Tommy to hand out to anyone who knocked on his door.

Well that's a little unfair. I don't have a clue who this kid is. So lets see if a little well intentioned google-salking can shed some light on who the latest young man to don the Maize and Blue is.

Vitals
Reed Baker
Ht: 6'1"
Wt: 175
Pos: PG

Baker averaged 22.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game for Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, FL. Baker led his team to the Florida Regional 3A Championship, where they came up a tad short. He was named Class 3A First Team All-State selection by the Florida Sports Writers Association. This senior year doesn't appear to be a fluke, as a junior Baker averaged 23.4 ppg and was named 2nd Team All-State. He left his high school as its all time leader in points (1,512) and assists (313).

His Strange Journey

Baker was not heavily recruited out of high school. He originally signed with the Citadel last fall. The Citadel fired its coach, no word if it was Lords of Discipline related, and Baker was released from his commitment. The press blurb on the site had this to say about Baker:

Baker earned three letters in basketball and averaged 23.5 points, five assists and five boards per game, while shooting 88 percent from the free throw line. Named the Southwest Florida Player of the Year in 2005, Baker made second team all-state as a junior. During his senior season he averaged 20.6 points and 4.8 assists per game.
Baker then signed with Birmingham Southern.* Though I can't find a link to it, the Detroit Free Press states Birmingham Southern dropped to D-III shortly after Baker's commitment. Baker again asked out of his commit, and it was granted.

Sans a team for a short time, apparently the Air Force Academy and Pepperdine expressed interest in him. Johnny found a blurb that seems to sum it up best, "an array of circumstances prevented him from landing with those programs."

Then out of nowhere, Michigan called. "I was a little surprised they contacted me," Baker told the Free Press. After two days of courting, Amaker & Co. told him they extend a scholarship. And now he's going to be a Wolverine. I'll give the kid props, he said the right thing. "This is the best day of my life."

What's Out There On Him

There is an interview Baker did in the News-Press, a southwest Florida newspaper, which seems to shortly follow his Citadel Commitment. In it he mentions Jamal Crawford as a favorite player. Why are all those sirens going off in my head? The article also features and incredibly smug shot of Baker in a suit spinning a basketball on his index finger. Second coming of Dugan Fife?

Creepy recruiting site (is there any other kind?) HoopsUSA.com has a listing of the top 100 Florida seniors. How they came up with the numbers, I have no idea. Who this guy is that runs it, ditto. But they rate Baker as the 73 best senior in Florida.

Scout's Florida High School site has a small profile on him. He's rated as a two star prospect. Rivals has a "site" for him, but it looks like it was set up yesterday. Baker isn't ranked. His list of schools with interest is either very confusing or incredibly depressing.

UPDATE: Nathan Feno at the Ann Arbor News did a write up Baker's commit. Baker apparently played well enough at an open gym with current and former Michigan players to get a head nod from Graham Brown.

Brian is out on the ledge again. Someone talk him back in. Brian repeat after me. Football season is coming. Football season is coming. Football season is coming. He dug up this News-Press article about Baker's commitment. Read it at your own peril.

One thing that is for sure, he's never seen Crisler. "To play in a packed house in front of 20,000 fans screaming with every game on ESPN, it’s going to be incredible." Apparently he thinks he committed to Michigan State. Reed. Quick heads up. We wear the blue and white jerseys.

Where Does He Fit In?

The kids a scorer and a distributor, at least at the high school 3A level. How he'll adapt to Big Ten athletes is up in the air. Jarret Smith should remain the defacto point guard, but I'm sure Baker will spell him a bit. Expect to see a lot of Baker early in the season as Tommy tries to get a handle on what he can do. Also expect to see him in situations where he has no hope of success when Tommy throws him to the lions against OSU or MSU if we're down big.

On paper, buried on the depth chart. In reality, if he can actually run the point, we may see him out there quite a bit as Smith's backup. What I could find on him is positive. In 2003-2004 he was an all-state honorable mention as a sophmore. He then went 2nd team all state as a junior in 2004-2005, and finished first team as a senior. Good progression. Good numbers.

Baker mentioned that he sent game tapes to Michigan after receiving "hi, who are you?" phone call. Less than a week later he's in Ann Arbor and they're pitching him on the school. Maybe they saw something. We'll have to wait and see. Tommy will too. Because of NCAA rules he offered Reed a scholarship WITHOUT EVER SEEING HIM PLAY LIVE.

There were some creepy recruiting sites that said Baker could end up being a steal for a D-1 school. Most of those comments were by random anonymous posters (so no link), but the vibe on the kid seems to be he's a decent ball player. The Birmingham Southern site also mentions that he cracked 30 points four times his senior year. Combine that with the assertion he shot 88% from the free throw line, we could be looking at a quiet 10-15 a night mixed with some apples. While this is a hopelessly optimistic view, I'm less ready to throw Tommy under a bus for this than I was at the start of my investigation. There are other things that warrant that, so its not like this pushed Tommy over the edge in my book.

Even so, the fact that Michigan yet again failed to land a top name, top game point guard is not a good sign. The fact that we're picking up the pieces from schools like Rutgers and the Citadel, no matter how good those players turn out to be, is not good. We now only have two 2007 scholarships left open. Please, dear god, do not let them be unranked "who dat's". This is killing me.

We've got two open scholarships. Fenno's got the following guys as Michigan's top targets: Manny Harris (Detroit), Dante Jackson (Greenfield, Ohio), Scott Martin (Valparaiso, Ind.) and Demetri McCamey (Westchester, Ill.).

Fenno doesn't get it. I've already started combing the Southwest Chicago State rosters to find our next big recruit.

*As you can see, this was source of most of the information I could find on Reed.

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