Finally healthy, Baker ready to compete

Published 2:30 pm Wednesday, June 27, 2018

LEXINGTON (KT) — Jemarl Baker experienced something new in his first season at Kentucky.

The sharp-shooting guard from Los Angeles not only had to deal with being away from home but also deal with a torn left meniscus that sidelined him during his freshman campaign. Baker had surgery during preseason workouts and spent the rest of the year in rehab.

For Baker, it was all a learning experience.

“It was definitely tough to get it back. It was something that I haven’t ever been through before but I enjoyed the process,” he said. “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.”

Baker admitted out gave him more insights into the game of basketball.

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

Baker suffered the knee injury in high school but didn’t realize the extent of the damage until he arrived at Kentucky and was told surgery would be required on his knee. He realized after surgery he would not be returning.

“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,” he said. “The first month or so it wasn’t getting too big so I just knew it was going to take a little bit.”

Baker was at 80 percent healthy during the postseason and has since been upgraded to 100 percent and has been taking part in team and individual workouts ever since.

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

Baker, a 6-foot-4 guard, will compete in a backcourt that will feature returnee Quade Green, along with newcomers Immanuel Quickley, Tyler Herro, Ashton Hagans and possibly Keldon Johnson. The competition doesn’t intimidate Baker but instead motives that sophomore guard.

“I’m excited,” he said. “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.”

Now that he’s healthy, Baker hopes to be part of the team’s main contributors on the court next season.

“That is why I came here last year,” he said with a smile. “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.”