Jemarl Baker is the most mysterious player on the roster, considering he has been with the program for over a year and we still haven’t seen him play.
It has been an injury-riddled career thus far for Baker, the four-star shooting guard out of the Class of 2017. He came to Lexington with a knee injury he suffered in California’s title game, the last of his high school career. He would eventually learn it was a torn meniscus and had to undergo surgery prior to the start of his freshman season. It kept him out the entire year.
Then he thought he was ready to go this past summer, but again missed some practice with lingering issues in his knee. When it came time for Kentucky’s four-game slate in the Bahamas, Baker watched on from the bench, as he had done all last season.
“Just little things that aggravated it,” Baker told KSR, when asked what went wrong prior to the Bahamas, where he expected to make his on-court debut. “I had a swell-up for a couple weeks straight, but I feel really good now. I’m so excited. I feel good.”
“It was definitely tough,” he added, “but I try to be positive with everything — just being able to cheer the team on, encourage the team, and be able to learn and see how passionate we are and how hard we work. I’m a hard worker and I’m passionate as well, so now that I’ve been able to practice I’m just glad to be on the court and just waiting for my chance to get onto the floor in a game.”
Baker is back to practicing and he is working hard to make up for lost time. It would seem he is behind in the rotation, simply because of his absence, but don’t tell him that.
He said, “I don’t even think about it like that. I’ve been on the court, I’ve been doing the whole practices now, so I’ve just been working hard, trying to get better and I’m controlling what I can control. I don’t care about the minutes or anything like that — that’s going to come. I’m just going to work hard and do what I can control.”
When it comes time for everyone to see Baker on the court, he wouldn’t reveal what we should expect. He came in labeled as a shooter and insisted he had more to offer, but now he’s tight-lipped on what he can bring to the team.
“You’ll have to see it when I get on the court, really,” he said. “I haven’t played in a game so I can’t really say anything, but I’ve been working hard, I’ve been working on every facet of my game so I’m just working and when I get on the court I’m just trying to win. I’m passionate. Whatever you guys see, it’s what you guys see. It doesn’t matter to me.”
Hopefully he can stay healthy, although that remains to be seen. For now he says, “I feel really good. I feel really good.”
Check out the rest of KSR’s 2018-19 Basketball Preview Series: