Wichita State Shockers

Report: Baker earns Knicks roster spot

New York Knicks guard Ron Baker (31) goes to the basket against Boston Celtics forward Amir Johnson (90) and guard Avery Bradley (0) during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game.
New York Knicks guard Ron Baker (31) goes to the basket against Boston Celtics forward Amir Johnson (90) and guard Avery Bradley (0) during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game. AP

Evan Wessel, like many Ron Baker fans, checked the New York Knicks schedule. The Knicks play at Oklahoma City on Feb. 15.

There’s reason to hope that night will represent something close to a homecoming for Baker, although there’s no guarantee he still be on the Knicks roster in four months. Friday, however, is a day to think about Baker’s journey from Scott City to Wichita State walk-on to an NBA roster.

“I texted him and congratulated him,” said Wessel, his teammate and roomate at WSU. “The journey starts here. He’s got a lot of work to do to keep his dreams alive.”

Baker played well throughout the preseason for the Knicks, impressing onlookers with his smarts, unselfish play and shooting. On Friday morning, the Knicks made cuts to get to the roster limit of 15. Baker survived. An injury to guard Chasson Randle perhaps helped. Randle is out with a fractured orbital bone and was among Friday’s cuts. He played well in the Knicks summer league and was seen as a candidate to make the roster.

The Knicks open the season at Cleveland — for the Cavaliers championship ring ceremony — on Tuesday (6:30 p.m., TNT).

As expected, former Shocker Cleanthony Early is not on the Knicks roster and will play for the organization’s NBA Development League team in Westchester (N.Y.).

Baker averaged 7.0 points, 2.4 assists and 2.0 rebounds in five preseason games. He made 46.2 percent of his shots and 5 of 9 three-pointers.

Toronto is waiting on its final cuts until after Friday’s preseason game at Washington. Former Shocker Fred VanVleet is a strong candidate for a roster spot, although he has competition from Brady Heslip and Drew Crawford.

The Raptors open the season against Detroit on Wednesday.

Should Baker and VanVleet play in a regular-season NBA game, they will continue a recent surge in WSU’s NBA connection. No athlete who finished his career as a Shocker played in the NBA between Antoine Carr’s final game with the Grizzlies in 2000 and Toure Murry (Knicks) and Gal Mekel (Mavericks) in 2013.

Around 2,500 people came out to get their new children's book signed by Wichita State basketball star Ron Baker, who authored his first children's book " You're Too Big to Dream Small," at Exploration Place Friday, Aug. 5, 2016. (Video by Fernando

Wichita State basketball players Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet and Evan Wessel star in restaurant chain Carlos O’ Kelly’s new commercials.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

In the Knicks of Time

If Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet make NBA rosters next week, they will be the 13th and 14th players to end their careers at Wichita State and appear in an NBA game. Baker would be the sixth Shocker to be a Knick.

Player

NBA yrs

As a Knick

Knicks games

Dave Stallworth

8

1966-72, ’74-75

340

Nate Bowman

6

1967-70

190

Xavier McDaniel

12

1991-92

82

Toure’ Murry

2

2013-14

51

Cleanthony Early

2

2014-16

56

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