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Kentucky Basketball Preview: Will Jemarl Baker find a role in loaded backcourt?

Baker has the ability, but will he get the opportunity?

Drew Brown - Sea of Blue

Who are we talking about?

Jemarl Baker, redshirt freshman guard

What did he do before this season?

Last season, he was at Kentucky but ended up getting a medical redshirt due to a knee injury.

Prior to that, he was a late addition to the 2017 class at Kentucky and was dubbed as “the shooter” of the class. Reports out of practices early last year were that he was a phenomenal shooter, which last season’s team could definitely have used. But he has now had a year to get healthy and learn how things work at Kentucky, giving him a unique perspective on this versatile squad.

2016-2017 statistics:

31 games (Roosevelt High School), 17.1 points, 4.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds per game.

His best performance before Kentucky...

Baker has several great games in high school, but his best performances came when he was doing the Lord’s work and wrecking the Ball brothers. He scored 30 against Chino Hills High School in 2015 when Lonzo Ball was around, and put up 29 the next year against his little brothers.

Baker is a good player in a great backcourt

Jemarl Baker is known as being a sharpshooter. He has a very pure shot that barely clips the nets when the ball goes through the rim. Last year’s team was in desperate need of those services, but with the additions of Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, and Immanuel Quickley shooting should not be as much of a need this season.

It seemed as though the Bahamas trip would provide an opportunity for Baker to establish himself and prove that he belonged on the court with his talented teammates. Unfortunately, he was still recovering from knee surgery and had to take addition time off.

Even more unfortunately, everyone else looked great. Immanuel Quickley and Tyler Herro exceeded the expectations of many, and Quade Green looked like the veteran leader this team needs. So with those guys playing well, how can Baker get on the court?

Surprisingly, Baker has showed during the preseason that he is one of the more athletic players on the team. During Kentucky’s pro day in early October, Baker shocked many fans by putting up impressive numbers in the testing and measurements section of the day.

Despite having the second highest body fat measurement on the team (11.22%), Baker had the fastest time on the entire team in the lane agility drill and the 34 court sprint. He was also fourth on the team in repetitions (10) with the 185 pound bench press, second among back court players to Jonny David (15).

If Baker’s athleticism can translate to the court in the form of defense and rebounding, then he will definitely earn some minutes for the Wildcats this season. It is going to be very important for Baker to perform well in exhibition games in order to earn the opportunity to take the court when real games begin.

His first opportunity was set to come on Oct. 26 against Transylvania, but knee swelling led to Kentucky holding him out for precautionary measures. He’ll now look to make his debut against IUP on Nov. 2 before Kentucky opens the regular season against Duke the following Tuesday.

How do you see Jemarl Baker contributing to the Wildcats this season?