Josh Gershon /

Cal basketball lands its second 2017 commitment in guard Jemarl Baker

Jemarl Baker calls himself a family man, and it was the family atmosphere that drew him to commit to Cal on the final day of 2015.

When 2017 Corona (Calif.) Roosevelt guard Jemarl Baker visited Berkeley for the Blue-Gold Scrimmage, even then, he just knew.

"During that visit, that's when I really got the feeling for how it was up there," said Baker, who committed to the Golden Bears on Thursday, becoming the second 2017 pledge, after Alec Hickman. "When I got up there, I've always liked the coaches, since I first met them, and when I got up there, it was just a great family atmosphere, and I loved it. I felt like I fit, right when I got on campus."

The energy and the enthusiasm of assistant Yann Hufnagel was one factor, as was how early head coach Cuonzo Martin got to scouting Baker -- way back last spring.

"[AAU coach] Ryan [Silver] called me and told me that coach Cuonzo, the head coach, he was coming to see me," Baker recalled. "That was really big for me, for their first time seeing me, that the head coach came to see me."

Though the Bears weren't able to see Baker in Las Vegas this summer -- he was down with a turned ankle -- they'd seen what they wanted to, and after that visit, so had Baker.

"I think it was just a big connection between the coaches and the players, which is really good," Baker said. "I love how it's a family. There's not really any drama or anything there, when I was there, so it was great."

Baker -- who said he finished his fall semester with a GPA between 3.6 and 3.8 -- is all about family, with three older sisters. Both they and Baker's parents accompanied him to Berkeley and, he said, "loved it."

Education is also a big selling point for Baker, as two of his three older sisters metriculated from San Jose State and San Diego State, respectively.

On the basketball side, Baker checks in at 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, and has the tools to be a very good defender, and is already a well-developed passer. However, Baker says, his best tool is his shooting.

"They tell me that they see me as a point guard, being able to make plays and do what I do well," Baker said. "Better than anything else, I definitely can shoot. I want to really work on getting stronger, and faster, just my athletic ability."

Watching the Bears through their non-conference schedule -- wtih some big wins over Saint Mary's, Davidson and Wyoming, and an overtime heartbreaker against Virginia -- has been instructive for Baker, as he closed in on his decision.

"They can compete with anybody. They're on the highest level," Baker said, "and they had the ability to pull it out [against Virginia], but they weren't able to. That's something you've got to work on. They're a team that hasn't really been on the big stage very much, but to be on that level, that's great."

Baker had offers from Oklahoma State, Providence and USC.

"It was very important to stay in California, though I didn't really mind going far, but I'm a really big family person," Baker said. "I didn't want to go too far away from them." Top Stories