May 21, 2010

Baker turning heads early

On November 11, 2009, Darryl Baker thought that he had it all. The Indiana native was entering into his freshman year at Jeffersonville High School and had the attention of many Division-1 colleges. He was even preparing to possibly start for the Red Devils, who had been rumored to have one of their best teams in years.

But on that day, Baker's basketball career took an unexpected detour. The Class of 2013 prospect was going up for a dunk before practice when he was accidently kicked, landed awkwardly and broke his tibia. Just like that, his promising freshman campaign was over before it started.

"It was tough," Baker said. "It was hard to sit and watch."

The guard spent the next six months recovering, playing little basketball and working more on rebuilding the strength in his leg. The strenuous process took a lot of the energy out of Baker, who still says his leg is only "95 percent." But the soon-to-be sophomore continued to keep his eye on the biggest prize: college.

Fortunately, he had some guidance from someone who had been in his same position. Sherron Wilkerson, a former Indiana player who broke his leg playing for the Hoosiers in the 1990s, is Baker's AAU coach on Team Southern Indiana. Together, the duo has been working hard getting Baker's game, and knee, back to where it should be.

And this past weekend at the AMC Classic in Bloomington showed the pair is making progress.

Baker was a full-fledged scorer, willing and able to score from almost anywhere. He made a majority of his points driving to the basket and drawing contact. Even though he didn't always finish, his free throw stroke was consistent, dropping 14 consecutive from the charity stripe at one point.

He was also rumored to have scored 38 points in a Saturday afternoon pool play game.

"I just try to let it come as it goes," Baker said. "If I have a shot, I am going to take it. If not, I'm going to go to the bucket."

While some basketball fans think it is insane Indiana has already been interested in a player from the Class of 2013 for a year now, the Hoosiers are far from the only college looking.

Along with Indiana, Xavier, Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan State and Butler are showing interest in the 6-4 guard, although the Musketeers are the only school to offer a scholarship so far. However like most 2013 guards, Baker is in no hurry to decide where he is going to attend college in three years.

"I am just letting it all come to me right now," Baker said. "I'm not trying to focus on it too much right now, I still have a lot to accomplish. When the time comes, I'll focus on it a lot more."

But for now, Baker will have to settle for having a few small birdies stay in his ear about his future destination. His cousin, Edward Wright-Baker, is vying for a starting quarterback position on the IU football team and has not been afraid to let him know his opinion of the Hoosiers..

He is also noticing more local IU fans let him know where their collegiate allegiance lies, even as a freshman in high school.

"I hear about (where I should go) at school a lot," Baker said. "I hear it all the time. I just laugh about it though."

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