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Jemarl Baker opens up about lost season and recovery from knee surgery

"I’m just really excited for this year, excited to play and excited to help the team win.”

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Boise Practice Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Jemarl Baker is ready to rebound from his lost freshman season.

When baker originally came to UK, the hope was he’d bring an added dimension as a lights-out three-point shooter. That turned into a major weakness for the Cats last season, and unfortunately, Baker was never able to help out.

That’s because Baker underwent knee surgery in the preseason that wound up costing him all of his first collegiate season.

On Thursday, Baker met with media to discuss the surgery and his recovery.

“My knee, or not even my knee, my whole leg was really little so I just knew it was going to be a whole big process for me to just get strength back in my leg,” Baker said of his leg following surgery. ”The first month or so it wasn’t getting too big so I just knew it was going to take a little bit.

“It was definitely tough to get it back. It was something that I haven’t ever been through before but I enjoyed the process. I just got to look at basketball in a different perspective, so now I’m ready to go and I’ll be better this year.”

While it always stings an athlete to be unable to play and help his teammates, Baker did his best to enjoy the process and learn from it.

“Just being able to watch practice, watch the games. Just being able to experience everything from I guess a front-row seat. It was just good and it prepared me,” he said.

Despite not playing full-contact basketball for almost a whole year, Baker is confident he‘s ready to rock this coming season.

“I feel great. I’ve been working out ever since I’ve been back,” he said. ”My shot feels good. My game feels good, so I am just ready to get out there and play.

“I’m excited. You come to Kentucky you know you are going to have to compete. Guys coming in every year so it’s not a big deal to me. I love to compete and that’s why I’m here.”

UK head coach John Calipari has stressed his desire for improved three-point shooting, something that’s music to Baker’s ears.

On if he’s excited about Calipari saying he wants shooters everywhere on the court this season…

“Yeah, for sure. That is why I came here last year,” said Baker. Just unfortunately I wasn’t able to do it. I’m just really excited for this year, excited to play and excited to help the team win.”

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