"When I weighed getting a scholarship against walking on, it came down to what I wanted out of the experience," the Bettendorf (Iowa) High senior said. "I want to be part of program going in the right direction; a program on the rise. I want to play in the NCAA Tournament. If I went to a Division II school, that wouldn't be possible. I like Iowa. The people care and the fans are loyal."
The 6-foot-7 Baer averaged 15.3 points and 8.2 rebounds for a 26-2 Bettendorf team that fell in the state semifinals to eventual champion Iowa City West in March. Hawkeye Coach Fran McCaffery watched that game with his son, Connor, playing for the Trojans.
"That was the first time he saw me and he said he was impressed," said Baer, who scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a 49-46 defeat. "It was a really tough loss for me but at least something good came of it. Coach (Kirk) Speraw contacted me after the season and asked if I'd like to visit campus."
"I got to sit down with Coach McCaffery in his office and one of the main things that I liked was that he was honest and genuine," Baer said. "He said he thought I'd be a good addition to the team because I'm a good person and a good teammate. I take pride in being a team-first player and he recognized that."
Baer, who was named first-team all-state by the Iowa Newspaper Association, said he'd like to earn a scholarship at Iowa but it's not his focus.
"I talked about it with Coach McCaffery," he said. "Maybe two or three years down the road, if there's one available, I will have done enough to earn one. It's definitely one of my goals but I'm not going to Iowa to get a scholarship. My main goal is to help the team and be a part of a program on the rise."
Baer said he is considering majors in Business and Communications. He said he would be playing in the Prime Time League with the other Hawkeyes in North Liberty this summer.