By LARRY VAUGHT
With Quade Green no longer on the roster, redshirt freshman Jemarl Baker could now finally get his chance to play because he’s apparently finally healthy and UK is down to three guards.
“I feel good. I feel really good. Going through treatment, rehab and all those things, I feel good. I feel back to 100 percent. I’m just glad to be with the team,” Baker said Friday.
Baker said “minor stuff” like knee swelling had kept him from playing after his knee surgery last season. He finally briefly got in the game last week against Seton Hall and could play more today against Utah.
“I’m back now, so I’m excited,” he said.
He joked he could play as much as coach John Calipari needs him today and said it felt “normal” to finally play last week.
“I’ve been feeling really good. I’ve been practicing full time these last couple weeks and I’ve been feeling good, so just do whatever it takes to win,” Baker said.
Green’s departure doesn’t put pressure on Baker.
“We wanted him here, but he had to do what was best for him and now I’m just going to step in and work hard and play my game,” Baker said. “I felt opportunity before when he was here. Now I’m just going to work hard. I’ve been working with the team. We’ve been working to get better and I’m just going to get out there and do whatever it takes to win.”
He has no doubts UK can shoot better than it has been.
“We haven’t been shooting it to our best lately, but we will. As we keep getting comfortable and keep getting comfortable with each other, how we want to play, it’ll all start to come together,” he said.
Calipari acknowledged Friday that Baker likely will get an “opportunity” to play Saturday.
“He should be able to score the ball for this team, which is something that we need. He’s not just a 3-point shooter. He can make 3s, but he’s more of a scorer, and I told him – the other stuff, make really simple plays,” Calipari said.
“Don’t try and create and go crazy. Just score the ball. Figure out where you can score. If you can’t, make an easy play. Let these other guys do what they do. You do what you do.”