Indianapolis – As far as high school freshmen go, they don't come much better than Jeffersonville's Darryl Baker.
On his Team Southern Indiana AAU team, the 6'3", 180-pounder does it all. He jumps center and is the team's primary ball handler. He's equally adept at shooting from behind the 3-point arc as he is at finishing above the rim, and he's surprising polished for a player his age. While there might be a while to go before the Class of 2013 national rankings begin to take shape, it's hard to imagine Baker not being considered among the nation's elite.
As good as Baker is, very few have had an opportunity to see him play. That's due to not only his age, but also the fact he missed his entire freshman season with an injury. Baker broke his tibia in November after getting kicked in the leg on an alley-oop dunk attempt, and he missed Jeffersonville's march to the Class 4A semistate.
But Baker is back on the court and showing no ill effects from the injury.
"I don't want anyone to doubt me since the injury," Baker said. "I want to get back to normal, and even better, hopefully."
As more people see Baker play, any doubts about his injury or his ability to play at the very highest level figure to be erased quickly. While he's yet to play a high school basketball game he's already received a scholarship offer from Xavier, and Indiana is also keeping close tabs on him as well.
Baker said IU Assistant Coach Tim Buckley talks to his AAU coach – former IU player Sherron Wilkerson – regularly, and he's hoping to become more familiar with IU Coach Tom Crean soon.
"We haven't had a chance to talk because he's so busy," Baker said of Crean. "So I hope to get a chance to talk to him this summer when I go up to the camps."
In the meantime, the IU staff figures to stay in close contact with Wilkerson. The former Indiana Mr. Basketball from Jeffersonville H.S. and Indiana Hoosier is not only Baker's coach, but a person who has made a tremendous impact on Baker and someone with plenty of influence.
"If it had to be anyone, it would be Sherron," Baker said about what player he models his game after the most. "He's a great influence. He's like a father figure. I've known him my whole life."
Wilkerson's goal is to not only help Baker develop his game, but also deal with what figures to be relentless recruiting attention over the next several years.
"He's trying to get me to the next level," Baker said. "That's what he's teaching me every day."
Baker Among the Nation's Best in 2013?
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