The message impacted the guard while visiting the Hawkeyes this week. He welcomed it.
"Usually in the recruiting process, they tell you what you want to hear," Baker said. "The coaches were really honest. They told me that if I come in there I'm going to have to work for it. I'm not going to be guaranteed a starting position, which I didn't expect.
"I told them that I've never shied away from competition. They really liked that about me. I really liked the fact that they were really honest with me."
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Baker decided to transfer away from Pepperdine after two seasons of starting for the Waves. His 12.9 points in West Coast Conference play led the team this past winter.
Here's Baker's Pepperdine Bio with stats and a highlight video.
"I don't regret going to Pepperdine one bit," Baker said. "I enjoyed it. It helped me mature as a person and player.
"But I really want to get on a bigger stage. I feel like I'm very capable of playing at a high level. That's what I'm in search of right now."
Baker used his first of five official visits allowed by NCAA rules to see Iowa. While he hasn't scheduled any other trips, he plans to stop at Providence, Florida State and Colorado State before making his decision, he hoped, at the end of this month or the beginning of August.
"Ultimately, the reason I left Pepperdine is because we didn't win enough games," Baker said. "I want to win games. It will come down to winning games and where I can come in and help them the most right away.
"It really comes down to how I feel on my visits and what school I feel needs me the most. I feel like I'm an impact player. Wherever I go, I really want to be able to step in and impact the team in a positive way from the jump."
NCAA transfer rules require Baker to sit out the upcoming season. He would then retain two years of eligibility.
"I can use that redshirt year to put on some weight and mature and watch film and work on the areas that I know I need to improve," the Arizona native said.
Baker earned his state's Gatorade Player of the Year award after his senior season at Tempe High, where he averaged 27. 3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.5 steals in 2010-11. Parade named him a third team all-American, the only WCC recruit to earn a spot on the top three squads.
"This time, I really want to take as many visits as possible," Baker said. "I felt like I cut myself short the last time. I chose Pepperdine because I knew I would be able to come in and make an impact right away."
Baker said Arizona State has jumped into the mix for his services. He has not decided if he will use his fifth official visit on the Sun Devils or any other school, for that matter.
Iowa received the opportunity to make a good first impression with Baker and appeared to have done so.
"I enjoyed it up there," he said. "The coaching staff was great. The guys on the team were great. Usually when you're around people like that you get good vibes from them. They're good people."
Baker participated in an open gym scrimmage with the Iowa team on Tuesday.
"It was really intense," he said. "I really enjoyed it. Pretty much the whole team can really play.
"I'm not trying to bash (Pepperdine) or anything but it was definitely a step up from playing open gym out there. It was more organized and there definitely was less arguing about calls. If a call was made, they would just check it up and we'd just continue to play."
Baker said Iowa reached out to his recruiting advisor, Anthony Ray, to express interest in him. The Hawkeye staff found out the guard was interested and invited him in for a visit. He arrived there Tuesday and left Thursday morning.
Gabe Olaseni played host to Baker on his Iowa visit. Most of the other Hawkeyes left town Wednesday to return home for the holiday.
"Iowa City is a beautiful place," Baker said. "I know it's summer time, but when you think of Iowa you think of cold weather. It was beautiful.
"It was up to 80 degrees. It was very similar to Malibu. You could get the feel that it was a college town. It was very green. I like the way that the campus was put together. I just really enjoyed my time there, to say the least."
Baker majored in public relations and communications at Pepperdine and is planning to continue that course of study at his new school.
Baker seems to fill a need for Iowa with leading scorer Roy Devyn Marble, a combo guard, set to use his final year of eligibility this winter. The Hawkeyes have four available scholarships to use in 2014 after freshman Patrick Ingram decided to leave the team this off-season.
"I'll come in with high confidence and play with a high motor," Baker said. "I'm looking to help any way possible. I prefer to play point guard but a lot of people look at me as a combo guard.
"Wherever the coach can use me, that's what I'll be able to do. I'll come in humble and looking to work hard. Everything that comes to me will be what I work for and I'll feel like I'll deserve it."
The Hawkeyes struggled with inconsistent three-point shooting in '12-13. Baker connected on 40 of 107 (37.4 percent) of his trey attempts last season.