Bears guard Baker on a mission to rewrite U of A sports history

Title: Bears guard Baker on a mission to rewrite U of A sports history
Date: December 10, 2012
Original Source: The Edmonton Journal
Synopsis: I am doing a short internship over the holidays at The Edmonton Journal. My latest piece was a feature on Jordan Baker of the Alberta Bears and his assault on the Canada West record books. This article appeared in the Dec. 11 edition of the Edmonton Journal.

EDMONTON – When both of your parents are former University of Alberta basketball Most Valuable Players, you might think it’s impossible to be the most decorated basketball player in your house.

But Jordan Baker is on a mission to re-write Bears’ history and cement his status as the best baller in the family.

Jordan’s mother, Trix, is a Pandas legend, ranking second all-time on their scoring list, winning an MVP and then coaching the team for 15 years. Jordan’s father, Doug, played for the Bears from 1974-77, won a Canada West title and an MVP award, and retired with the school’s second highest scoring average.

But Jordan’s assault on the record books, both Alberta’s and the Canada West’s, already has him ahead of his dad in most areas.

“He only played for three years,” said Jordan. “So I’ve got him beat for totals. But he lets me know he had the scoring touch when he played.”

Longevity counts, too, however, and in his fourth year Baker finds himself just 48 points shy of the Bears’ record for career points. He’s also 20th on the Canada West’s all-time leaderboard and has a legitimate shot at toppling that record if he plays a fifth year.

It’s not just scoring where Baker gets it done, though. He’s currently seventh in the conference in scoring but also 16th in rebounding, ninth in assists, second in steals and fourth in blocks, an incredible stat-stuffing feat. He has already set the Bears’ record for career rebounds, assists, steals and minutes played and is top-20 all-time in the Canada West in those same categories except for assists.

“He defines versatility,” said University of British Columbia Thunderbird Doug Plumb, who has played against Baker four times in the past two seasons. “He’s the human Swiss Army Knife.”

Prior to this year, Baker was already working on quite a resume. He was the 2009-10 Canada West rookie of the year and followed that up with a pair of appearances on the Canada West All-First Team. Last year, he was named to the CIS all-Canadian Team for the five best players in the country, recognizing his role on a Bears team that won the Canada West conference.

With the Bears sporting a 9-1 record and holding on to the top spot in Canada West, Baker is getting mentioned in the conversation for the CIS player of the year.

“Jordan’s been contributing in every way for us,” said head coach Barnaby Craddock. “He’s a big part of why we’re 9-1. He’s a special player and he’s deservedly in the conversation.”

With the departure of the program’s all-time leader in scoring average, Daniel Ferguson, some thought the team might take a step backwards this year. But the players have rallied around their star, proving better than expected as they’ve risen to the No. 7 rank in the CIS poll. The leadership mantle has been taken up by several players, but Baker sets the tone on the court.

“His biggest contribution is how hard he plays,” said Craddock. “It really demand everyone else play just as hard.”

It might be tough not to think about, but Baker understands that focusing on any individual accolades would be short-sighted; team accolades beget personal ones.

“They’re not going to pick a guy on a bad team,” Baker said, when asked if he’s focused on the player-of-the-year award. “It’s a great testament to the team that I’m even mentioned.”

Baker’s destruction of the leaderboards is on pause over the exam and holiday break, but he and the Bears resume action on Nov. 11 at Trinity Western University.

 

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