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Kentucky Basketball: What to expect from Jemarl Baker

What will the redshirt freshman bring to the team this season?

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

We often talk about Shai Gilgeous-Alexander being an afterthought in the 2017 class, and that is true if you only consider the guys that played. But for the entire class, that label undoubtedly goes to four-star guard Jemarl Baker.

Baker was the No. 73 recruit nationally, and many believed he was given a scholarship to Kentucky solely due to his ability to shoot three pointers. If that was indeed the case, it is easy to see why.

Baker can certainly light it up from behind the three point line. In reports from last year’s practices, both before his knee surgery and when he was released to shoot afterward, players raved about Baker’s accuracy.

As you can see, he does not even use a lot of rim in draining perimeter jumpers.

And if you don’t trust my opinion, how about Rex Chapman?

However, I believe there is more to his game than shooting. In watching him play with kids at camps and in pick-up games, Baker is much more athletic than his reputation would suggest.

He can run the floor, he can get above the rim, and he sees the floor very well with the ball in his hands.

“He’s played at the highest level and has always succeeded. He had 30 and 38 against the Ball brothers and played on the Under Armour circuit. He gave [former Duke guard] Trevon Duval 34. He isn’t afraid of the moment,” West Coast Elite coach Justin Downer told Catspause. “He can run your team, he’s an excellent passer. He’s a supreme leader and a kid you want to root for and he’s tough as nails. He’ll be an instant fan favorite would be my guess.”

Baker will undoubtedly come off of the bench this season. And his playing time will largely be dictated by the performance of the rest of Kentucky’s loaded back court more than his own ability. If Tyler Herro is as good as advertised and Quade Green takes a step forward, I could see Baker getting very limited minutes.

However, in certain situations and against specific teams, Baker’s shooting ability will get him on the court enough to show that he can do so much more. If he performs well when he gets those opportunities, then he will earn minutes and get even more opportunities.

Even if Baker does not contribute very much this season and needs another year to develop, he has already done us all a solid by lighting up the Ball brothers.

What do you think Jemarl Baker fits in with the Wildcats’ roster this season?