Baker finds her place at Texas Tech
The world of sports often is consumed by the prototypical -- and Kelsi Baker simply is not. She is generously listed at 6-foot-1 in the summer league rosters, though the senior at Horn High School in Mesquite, Texas, plays with a style that renders her height meaningless. Some even venture to call her a "tweener," meaning she's between the wing and forward positions.
"I really like Cal, [but] it was just too far from home," Baker said.
So Baker, the No. 71 prospect in the ESPN HoopGurlz Hundred, stayed closer to home, telling ESPN HoopGurlz she made the call to Texas Tech coach Kristy Curry late Sunday evening on the heels of her official visit to the Lubbock campus.
"I really like Coach Curry and her staff," Baker said. "Their staff is just really, really genuine. Coach Curry, no matter what, she was just always there."
Baker also made visits to North Texas, Southern Methodist and Texas Christian before picking Texas Tech.
Being successful in the land of the giants requires a fierce determination and perhaps a deaf ear.
"It was hard hearing everybody saying, 'She's not going anywhere because she's not the usual post or usual guard,' " Baker said of those weighing in on her.
Most of those whispers, Baker discovered, were from people that had no connection to her basketball life. She also drew a lot of support and motivation from her fellow DFW club team teammate Akil Simpson, who committed to Southern Methodist University. At 6-foot, Simpson also lacks the height to be considered a prototypical post prospect but the success she had on the court helped motivate Baker past the naysayers and, ultimately, to several scholarship offers.
Anyone who has watched Baker play knows she is one of the best in the country at using her body to protect the ball and finish in the paint. She has a knack for scoring against bigger and taller opponents. She is a student of the game who has learned when and how to use her quickness to create an advantage as she spent most of the summer playing the post position for DFW.
With her commitment now out of the way, Baker now can focus on leading a young Horn High School team, hopefully deep into the playoffs. When she reaches Lubbock, she said, she will focus her studies on education, hoping to be a high school math teacher. She looks forward to some day being a recruiting coordinator at the Division I level.
Don't count Baker out, she'll just enjoy it too much when she proves wrong those who say she can't.
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Chris Hansen is the national director of prospects for ESPN HoopGurlz and covers girls' basketball and women's college basketball prospects nationally for ESPN.com. A graduate of the University of Washington with a communications degree, he has been involved in the women's basketball community since 1998 as a high school and club coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. Hansen can be reached at email@example.com.
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