The roster for the UNM Lobos Men’s Basketball program continues to take shape ahead of the 2023-24 campaign.
Needing size, experience, and stability to try to avoid a repeat of a late-season collapse, coach Richard Pitino dips his hand back into the transfer portal and grabs Jemarl Baker (6’5, 195 lb), a grad transfer who spent the last two seasons playing against the Lobos at Fresno State.
Baker’s college basketball journey goes all the way back to December 31, 2015, when he initially committed to Cal midway through his high school career.
That commitment stood until the end of his senior season when he asked the Bears for a release from his NLI.
The recruitment process reopened but did not last long. Fresh off of an appearance in the Elite Eight, Kentucky coach John Calipari reaches out to Baker for a visit. Less than a week later, Baker is a Kentucky Wildcat. When Calipari calls with a scholarship offer, that is hard to turn down.
After redshirting in 2017, Baker makes it onto the floor in Lexington in 2018. He appears in 28 games and scores 21 points in the NCAA Tournament as Kentucky reaches (and loses in) another Elite Eight.
Following the 2018-19 season, Baker goes back into the transfer portal and lands at Arizona. His role in Tucson proves to be more fruitful, averaging 12 points per game in the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season. In 12 games, he shot 40.3% from the floor, his only season with a field goal percentage in the 40s.
The end of that COVID season sparked another change in Baker’s basketball career. After four seasons in the SEC and Pac 12, seeking more playing time, Baker lands in the Mountain West at Fresno State.
He missed almost the entirety of his first season in the Valley with a knee injury but returned to full strength ahead of this recently completed 2022-23 season.
Baker started all 28 games for the Bulldogs, averaging per-game career highs in minutes (31.8), assists (2.9), and points (12.5).
In two games against the Lobos, he averaged 14.5 points and five assists per game.
Baker joins Iona transfer Nelly Junior Joseph as UNM’s transfer portal additions this offseason. Both are grad transfers.