As the No. 73 overall recruit in the 2018 class, Jemarl Baker came to Kentucky as a relatively unknown commodity. We were told that he was an extraordinary three-point shooters, but since he was not selected to post-season all-star games there was not a lot of game film available for Kentucky fans to watch.
Jemarl Baker is out shooting... Cal says Baker won't play anytime soon, but stroke is smooth pic.twitter.com/staLXV2s1P— Steve Moss (@smosswkyt) December 16, 2017
After spending his entire freshman year on the injured list, Big Blue Nation was excited to see how Baker could contribute to this talented roster. Alas, his knee continues to give him trouble as he missed the entire Bahamas trip due to swelling.
We were also told that Tyler Herro was a great shooter, and obviously he is much more than that. Can we expect similar surprises from Jemarl Baker?
Jemarl Baker is a shooter the likes of Derrick Miller, Dale Brown, Tony Delk & a few others. Can really stroke it. https://t.co/NaLMjT6zi4— Rex Chapman (@rex_rexchapman) July 20, 2017
Unfortunately, we may be waiting a while to find out. Baker fully participated in summer workouts and seemed to be fully healed, it is obvious that he has lingering issues with that left knee.
Thankfully, Baker has since returned to practice and continues to work ahead of the upcoming season.
I would love to say that Baker needs to work on his defense or his rebounding, but honestly, there is no sample from which to gather such a conclusion.
Baker needs to work on getting healthy. That’s not as simple as it sounds. You would think that taking the entirety of the 2017-2018 season off would have allowed him to get back to 100%. Sometimes it is just not that simple.
Jemarl Baker speaks to the media for the first time since last fall. “I feel great. I’ve been working out ever since I’ve been back.” pic.twitter.com/4Cm0jeLnaI— Shawn Smith (@gbbcountry) June 14, 2018
Baker would have been very useful on last year’s team. They often needed a shooter on the court and, besides Kevin Knox, did not have a guy who they could really count on from behind the three-point line.
In fact, you could argue that last year’s team needed Baker more than this year’s will. Between Tyler Herro, Immanuel Quickley, Quade Green, and Keldon Johnson there are several guys that can score from the outside. Shoot, PJ Washington and Reid Travis even appear to be long distance threats at this point.
Regardless, Baker has to be getting frustrated at this point. You give up an entire season to get healthy, and then you end up right back where you started.
Baker needs to find a way to be patient in his recovery, regardless of how badly he wants to contribute. Luckily, the 2018-2019 squad appears ready to survive without him.
It would be great if he can get back and find some minutes on this team. But at this point, he needs to be thinking long-term. If he wants to have a college career at all, Baker is going to have to do whatever it takes to get that knee right.
Hopefully that does not mean another surgery. It could just take some rest and rehabilitation. Either way, he needs to listen to the doctors and trainers and make the best decision for his knee long-term instead of rushing back to try and play immediately.
I am sure that is easier said than done, but this group seems like a close and supportive team that will give Baker the encouragement he needs to make the right decisions.
Whatever those decisions may be, I am confident that we will see Jemarl Baker knocking down three-pointers in Rupp Arena at some point. He was never one to back down from a challenge.