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Greg Jones

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Warsaw star credits AAU ball

Lindsay Baker’s origin as a player began a few years back, when an elementary school coach told the Warsaw junior to play AAU basketball.

Baker, a 5-foot-11 guard/forward, took the coach’s advice and the result has been a gradual progression that has helped her become one of the best all-around players in northeast Indiana and a chance to play Division I basketball in a couple of years at Toledo.

“Summertime creates great players in my opinion,” said Baker, who plays for the GymRats 2013 team on the AAU circuit.

“The key to my success with basketball is the amount of time I spend in the gym going game speed,” she said. “I figured out early that going in the gym and getting shots up is not enough unless you’re going hard. Summer work is critical, because there is no major games to focus on; all the focus can go into individual workouts.”

Playing AAU basketball hasn’t been the sole reason for the growth of her game. Baker has also scrimmaged against some of the best male players in town. The benefits of the hard work have shown as Baker has helped the Tigers to a 12-3 record this year.

Baker is averaging 14 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.7 steals. She is one of the few players in the area who appears among the area leaders of all four categories.

Her strength, she said, is an ability to create mismatches, either posting up smaller players or being quicker than bigger ones.

“I’ve worked hard on my ball-handling and shooting, because I knew when I was younger that I was not going to be a post player at a very competitive level because I was too short,” she said.

AAU has also helped Baker display her skills to college coaches.

“I’ve played a variety of sports throughout my life, but basketball was my ultimate passion,” she said.

A knee injury forced her to miss a tournament in Cincinnati last year.

“I strained my knee tendons and had to sit out, which was hard, to watch my team go and all play so well when I knew I could have had the same opportunities, but I recovered quickly and played the rest of the summer.”

The commitment to play at Toledo came last month. So there’s more work to be done.

“I’m also working on ensuring a quicker release for my shot. I’ve been told I have a pretty quick release on my shot, but it’s something I will continue to work on because of the speed of college basketball,” she said.

Greg Jones is the high school sports editor for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in the Fort Wayne area since 1998. He can be reached by email; phone, 461-8224; or fax 461-8648.