Friday, May 8, 2009
Updated: May 18, 10:12 AM ET
Baker just keeps going and going
By Glenn Nelson
Last fall, two of the country's top girl's basketball recruits flew long distances to work with him. South Carolina-signee Kelsey Bone, No. 2 in the 2009 class came from Texas. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, a top 2011 recruit, came from Southern California.
They laughed about how Ganon Baker, the director of the Nike Skills Academies, laid out Mosqueda-Lewis during a drill at the national session in Beaverton last summer. They also recounted Ganon-isms such as, "Split the crack, break your Momma's back."
But they didn't travel all that way for a few chuckles. Baker's sessions crackle with energy. His prowess as an athlete -- his physical feats and endurance -- takes on almost mythological heights among his various assistants on the Skills Academy trail that stretches from the South to the Northeast, Midwest, Texas and West Coast. He takes pains to remind all his trainees, whether they come from the middle-school or professional levels, that along their own basketball evolution, they are seeking and implementing the wisdom of those who came before them.
"Whether you're the best person in the gym or the worst person in the gym, he's going to give you everything he's got," Bone said. "You can't find that anywhere else."
All that is why someone would travel across the country to work with Baker, the Energizer Bunny of basketball trainers.
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Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A member of the Parade All-American Selection Committee, he formerly coached girl's club basketball, was the editor-in-chief of an online sports network, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.