TUSCON, Ariz. - Arizona’s roster is complete for this upcoming season, but the coaching staff is waiting to see if it will be gaining the eligibility of one current player.
Kentucky transfer Jemarl Baker has applied for a waiver to the NCAA that would make him eligible for the upcoming season.
Sources indicate that the ideal situation is that he will find out within the next month and Arizona made a strong case based on previous factors, but it remains to be seen what the NCAA will do.
“Jemarl and his family are working towards the possibility of that, and that’s really all I can comment on regarding that,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said.
“But if you’d say, ‘is there a possibility that he might be able to play?’ I would say yes. And I think I’ll stop there.”
Whether Baker plays or not is irrelevant to his overall role in practice as Miller has a tendency to treat the players redshirting the same as the ones that will be seeing game action.
“Our policy has always been that you want to treat those guys like they’re getting ready for game one,” Miller said.
“What that allows us to do is to have the most competitive daily practice environment we can possibly have.
When you have those two guys (Baker and Jordan Brown) in key roles playing in every drill, competing at a higher level, that just makes Ira Lee that much better. That develops Nico Mannion and Max Hazzard and Josh Green and Devonaire (Doutrive).”
Waiting for an answer on Baker’s eligibility won’t change the staff’s approach to the opening game of the season
“Until somebody tells us otherwise we’ll move forward so that we’re the most ready we can be on opening night against NAU,” Miller said.
Should Baker become eligible, he would provide an immediate boost to the Wildcats. Sources indicate that he has been one of the best players on the team in practice.
The former four-star guard redshirted in 2017-18 after undergoing knee surgery in October and had some bright moments last season despite playing limited minutes for Kentucky.
Baker appeared in 28 games in his first season on the court with 64 points, 15 rebounds, 12 assists and 13 3-pointers. He had three straight games with career-high scoring performances from March 21 to March 29.
Baker also scored eight key points in the win over Wofford in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, including three crucial free throws and a 3-pointer to halt Wofford’s momentum.
During his senior season in high school, Baker averaged 17.1 points, 4.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. He hit 94 total 3-pointers as a senior and shot 44 percent from long range as a junior, leading the Under Armour circuit in 3-pointers.