Texas lands 5-star Will Baker

Will Baker. (courtesy of Baker)

Will Baker. (courtesy of Baker)

AUSTIN — The more he thought about it, the more it became clear that Texas was home.

Will Baker, a 6-foot-11, 215-pound center from Austin Westlake, chose to stay home and committed to the Longhorns today.

The five-star Baker helped the Chaparrals to one of its most successful three-year stints in school history, including a trip to the UIL State Tournament in 2018. He was coveted by every major school in the nation including finalists Stanford, UCLA, and Georgetown.

Baker is the first third pledge for Shaka Smart and the Horns’ Class of 2019, joining Donovan Williams (Missouri City Elkins), and Kai Jones (Wolfeboro [NH] Brewester Academy). He’ll join former teammate Brock Cunningham, who signed with Texas last cycle.

Tim Preston, on Baker:

The Texas Longhorns landed local boy, and five-star prospect, Will Baker out of Austin Westlake this afternoon as the left-handed 7-footer chose the Longhorns over UCLA (among others). It’s another in a long line of examples of Shaka Smart and his staff cultivating and developing a relationship with a recruit and his family and landing that prospect when he was simply a must-get kind of player for their program.

Baker, a clear cut blue chip recruit (the #20 overall player and #7 center according to the 247Sports Composite), was identified by the staff early as the multi-faceted big man they coveted over others both in-state and nationally.

This is a huge pickup for the Longhorns, even if his commitment doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Strengths

· Technically sound all over the offensive end
· Patient, solid footwork around the basket
· Legitimate length as a 7-footer with long arms
· Touch well out to the three point line
· Consistent high release on his shot
· Comfort as a shooter off the catch in the mid-range
· Sees the court well
· Good screener
· Active defender at the rim
· Good area rebounder
· Repeatable, smooth free throw stroke
· Passes well
· Can put the ball on the floor and attack bigger defenders off the bounce
· Can finish above the rim when he loads his body

Weaknesses

· Foot speed is going to be an issue until he can prove it isn’t
· Not super-explosive as an athlete (though, not terrible by any means)
· Has work to do in the weight room to maximize his frame
· Has work to do with his physicality in absorbing contact
· Will need to show he can play strong with the basketball against aggressive, strong, smaller players

How he Fits

As a replacement for Osetkowski, Baker is an ideal fit for next year’s Texas team. With players like Sims, Hayes, Hepa and Kai Jones already in the fold, Texas was lacking a polished offensive threat in the frontcourt and Baker’s about as good as it gets in the country at that spot. The presence of those other players also provides some relief from Will’s growth areas as well, as they don’t exactly lack for quick, explosive big men.

He’s also an important recruit from the standpoint that this UT staff is a threat to land in-state kids when they prioritize them (as they have done with Jarrett Allen, Andrew Jones, Jase Febres and Gerald Liddell). Keeping that pipeline open and obvious has to happen and Shaka obviously gets that.

The Endgame

I mean, what can you say? There’s Coach K, Cal, Self, probably Roy Williams… But, then…after that…Shaka’s got to be that next guy in line (or very, very close), right?

Credit also needs to go to Darrin Horn and the consistent progress he’s been able to coach out of his big men.

Welcome, Will Baker. We think you’ll like it here.

Take a look at some of his most recent highlights.