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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

NCAA clears Jemarl Baker to play this season

Wildcats+Matt+Weyand+%2854%29+and+Kory+Jones+%2852%29+high+five+their+fellow+teammates+before+the+start+of+the+Red-Blue+game.+
Amy Bailey
Wildcats Matt Weyand (54) and Kory Jones (52) high five their fellow teammates before the start of the Red-Blue game.

The Arizona men’s basketball team received a huge boost on Thursday as Kentucky transfer Jemarl Baker received a waiver from the NCAA to play this upcoming season.   

The 6-foot-4-inch guard transferred to Arizona in May after two seasons at Kentucky, averaging 2.3 points in 28 games last season as a redshirt freshman. A native of Menifee, Calif., Baker was ranked the No. 66 player in the nation by ESPN coming out of high school, choosing the other Wildcats over Arizona, Oregon and Marquette.  

 “We haven’t had many players leave us, but in all cases we stay in touch and continue to try to help,” Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari said in a press release back in April when Baker announced his decision. “In Jemarl’s case, his injury in his first year and even the early part of this year set him back a little bit, but I still believe he’s an impact player who can score and defend. He’s a better defender than people give him credit for, and we knew we could play him this season in any situation, because we knew he was always going to defend. I appreciate everything he did for this program. Like any kid that leaves us, I’ll be watching his career from afar. We’ll always be here for him.”   

The addition of Baker is particularly big this season following the loss of sophomore guard Brandon Williams for the year with a reoccurring knee injury. Baker projects to battle it out with UC Irvine graduate transfer Max Hazzard and senior Dylan Smith for the other backcourt spot alongside freshman Nico Mannion.

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