After the transfers of redshirt freshman forward Brandon Hutton and true freshman guard Andrew Fleming, that opened up two scholarships for the Iowa basketball program entering the 2016 season. On Thursday, it was announced that one of those two spots had been gobbled up.
Walk-on Nicholas Baer, who played a ton of minutes, contributed greatly for an NCAA Tournament team, and was key in several ball games has been awarded one of the scholarships by head coach Fran McCaffery and his coaching staff. This is not a surprise at all and is certainly deserved as he was one of the significant reserves off the bench this past season.
"I am so thankful that coach McCaffery gave me the opportunity to walk-on; he gave me a jersey, gave me a chance to prove myself," Baer said in a statement released to the press. "It has always been a goal of mine to achieve a scholarship and I'm thankful that I have achieved that goal, but more so I'm thankful for all of my teammates who have pushed me to make me a better player and the support I've received from Hawkeye fans."
Baer competed in all 33 games this past season and averaged nearly 5 points and 3 rebounds a game off the bench. His 19 blocked shots registered second on the team, only to departing senior Jarrod Uthoff.
It wasn't just those numbers; Baer produced some clutch moments. Whether it was a timely drive to the hoop, a timely three-ball, or a key rebound or game-altering defensive play, Baer came through in some significant ways in some meaningful moments. Those performances are now being rewarded.
"When we invited Nicholas to walk-on two years ago, I had a strong suspicion that this day would come," head coach Fran McCaffery mentioned in a release. "I didn't give him a scholarship, he earned one and that's the greatest compliment that you can give to him. He just wanted a chance and felt like he would take it from there and he did."
"He really worked hard his redshirt year to figure out what he needed to do to be successful at this level," McCaffery continued about Baer. "Nicholas was a terrific player for us in a lot of different ways this past season. He impacts the game with his energy, basketball instincts, shooting, rebounding, defense, and he doesn't make mistakes. He's everything you want on the floor, especially with the way we play. I'm excited about having him in our program for the next three years."