College: Wichita State
Key stats: 15.0 PPG, 44 FG%, 4.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.8 BPG, 1.3 SPG
Draft projection: Late first-round pick
Ron Baker’s hair adds to his mystique. Once a scrawny curly-haired, sheep-looking kid, Baker’s emerged at Wichita State as a mean-looking, mop-headed master of basketball. A late growth spurt put him on the AAU radar rather suddenly, and a perceived overall lack of athleticism (the word “throwback player” got thrown around a lot as a backhanded compliment) made it difficult for Baker to get in front of the best colleges. He eventually walked on at Wichita State, but after killing it in preseason practices, the coaches wanted him to start playing ASAP. He was their best freshman arrival, although Baker didn’t see it that way. He felt that he needed to redshirt his freshman year to improve further—get faster and stronger, learn the offense more. He wasn’t completely Ron Baker, yet.
He’s now three years into his Wichita State career and is one of the top guards in the country. Comfortable at either guard spot, his basketball IQ and shooting range makes him the deadliest player on the court at all times. Baker knows it now too—he no longer carries any self-doubt about his ability to play college ball. Athletically, the game still presents its challenges to him, but he sees the game so well that, eventually, the game starts running at his pace. That’s when he’s deadliest. Baker’s one of the game’s superstars, and with the amount of action he sees in that offense, Wichita State is a ticking time bomb every time he takes the ball up the court.