For Joey Baker, these days carry an ambiguous sense of finality.
Baker is wrapping up his fifth year in college, but his days may not be numbered quite yet. During ESPN’s broadcast of Tuesday’s NIT first-round tilt between Michigan and Toledo, the announcers revealed that Baker wants to apply for a waiver to get back his freshman year of eligibility. If granted, the waiver would allow him to return to Michigan next season.
Out of pure speculation, perhaps Baker has a decent case: During Baker’s freshman year in the 2018-19 season at Duke, the Blue Devils burned his redshirt late in the year, in need of frontcourt pieces in the wake of Zion Williamson’s injury. Baker went on to appear in just four games.
But waivers are fickle. After Michigan’s 90-80 win over Toledo, Juwan Howard noted that Baker is well-qualified academically. Nonetheless, he conceded that “there’s also a few other hurdles” to go through.
That leaves Baker in an odd in-between.
“I think you’re weird if you’re not in the back of your head (thinking), ‘This could be my last time putting on the jersey in college,’ ” Baker said after a long pause. “That was on my mind heavily the past few days. I want to go out and try to win as many games as possible. We’re still facing good competition. We have an opportunity to win a championship. It’d be silly not to try and get it.”