Kiski Area big man Jason Baker to transfer to South Carolina school

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Wednesday, August 26, 2020 | 9:43 PM


Kiski Area big man Jason Baker is heading south to chase his dreams.

On Wednesday, the 6-foot-9 forward announced he was transferring to Legacy Early College, a public charter school in Greenville, S.C. that has won two USA Prep National Championships since 2016. They won their most recent in 2019.

“It just felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I felt like I had to take advantage of it once it came to me,” Baker said.

Since Legacy Early head coach and athletic director BJ Jackson took over the program nine years ago, the Lions have sent multiple players to the collegiate level to play. In April, the Lions also received a commitment from Bryce McGowens, who is ranked by 247sports as the 35th-best player in the 2021 class and is the younger brother of former Pitt point guard Trey McGowens.

Baker has always wanted to play college basketball, and after receiving an offer from Morgan State earlier this summer, Baker thought heading to Legacy Early would give him the best opportunity to expand his recruitment and achieve his goals.

“I researched them a little bit and talked to their coach about it, and they even sent someone to the Brooklyn Nets,” Baker said. “So, I thought it was a good opportunity to get where I wanted to go.”

The Lions play a national schedule each year, which allows players to maximize their exposure. Just last year, they played schools like Aspire Academy, which recently rostered Lamelo Ball, and they’ve also played schools like AZ Compass Prep (Ariz.), Monte Verde, Oak Hill, Balboa School (Calif.), Our Saviour Lutheran (N.Y.) and La Lumiere (Ind.). They also played Pennsylvania schools like Neumann-Goretti and First Love Academy, which is a charter school in Washington, Pa.

Playing a national schedule and maximizing his recruiting profile in his senior year are just a few advantages of heading south, and Baker is excited for the opportunity to challenge himself against top competition.

“When you’re a top player in the country people just come at you,” Baker said. “So, they are just going to get me in better shape and get me more physical than what I need to be to go to the next level.”

Baker said he traveled to Greenville to check out the campus before he chose to transfer to Legacy Early and liked what he saw and how it could help him achieve his dream.

“The campus is nice. The practice facility, the courts, the weight room, they have just everything to make me better as a basketball player, an individual and academically,” Baker said.

This past year, Baker was key component to Kiski Area’s success. The Cavaliers went 9-13 and barely missed out on an appearance in the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs. They won five straight games from Jan. 21-31, but lost their final three to miss out on the playoffs.

Baker provided the Cavaliers with a solid down-low presence, but the big man could also knock down shots from the perimeter.

He averaged 12.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3 blocks per game. He shot 51% from field and 61% from free-throw line. He also missed five games due to injury.

When he heads to Legacy Early in about a month, Baker is hoping to focus on a few different areas to improve his game.

“I need to work on my dribbling a little and get a little more inside work,” Baker said. “But I think my game will be ready to compete with them when I get down there.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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