Naismith Award Finalist and Citizen Band Potawatomi member shows that hard work and positive acts can propel anyone to success.
By Charlie Perry @CharlieHPerry
Thousands of Wichita State (WSU) Shocker Nation faithful stood in admiration as a mop top, blond hair, and blue eyed, shooting guard, from small town Scott City Kansas, gently hoisted eight year old Lucy Wallie up to cut down a piece of the net off the Koch Arena basketball hoop, celebrating yet another Missouri Valley regular season title for the Shockers. Ron Baker moments before motioned to a nearby security guard to pull Wallie out of the crowd for the experience. “She had my jersey on and had my signature on it and I just saw her in the crowd. Koch Arena is filled with families. It’s a family environment and I just felt like someone needed to be a part of something special that happened today.” Baker said after VIA his Twitter account.
Baker’s love for children is no surprise. The 2015 Naismith Award Finalist has been actively involved with a number of organizations that cater to under privileged youth since his college basketball career began in Wichita Kansas. He brings smiles to his peers at Wichita State as he dances up a storm with Children’s Miracle Network kids, to the tune of over 57,000.00 dollars raised for the organization, at the school’s annual “Shockerthon” last fall. Since 2014 Baker has been a member of the “EnthusiAdams” team of college and professional athletes that share the common mission, “to leverage your position in the community while experiencing true joy by creating value for those around you.” Baker also frequents the Saint Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital of Wichita to show his appreciation for his younger fans.
“I always like treating younger kids with a lot of respect when they come to our games. For one, I was in their position before, looking up to players that meant something to me. So I keep trying to treat those kids with the most respect and give them my time of day.” said Baker.
Baker’s a small town kind of guy, born in Hays he grew up in Scott City, Kansas, where he quickly moved up the ranks to become a local high school basketball star at Scott Community High School. Despite leading his high school team to its first Class 3A state championship as well as being named 3A First-Team All-State in Kansas, Baker received little NCAA Division I interest his senior year. The Kansas City Star reported in March 2014 that only two NCAA Division I programs sent letters of interest to Baker; Arkansas-Little Rock and South Dakota State. “There’s about 2500 to 3000 people and 4 stop lights. 2 of them are for walk paths. In Scott City its very uncommon for Division I schools to see you play,” Baker stated in a January 2015 interview with CBS.
Baker decided to walk on at Wichita State in 2011 where he opted to fine tune his game by redshirting his freshman year. His sophomore season for the Shockers brought improbable success as his team made a run at the NCAA National Championship before they were downed by the eventual 2013 National Champion Louisville Cardinals in the Final Four. Head Coach for the Shockers, Greg Marshall, commented on Baker’s character at the 2015 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championship, “He’s just dynamite, I’ll go to the ends of the Earth with him and the rest of the them in the locker room, and I’m not talking coach speak here.” Marshall went on to say, “I know he’s a tough, physical, kid.”
The Wichita State community has left an impact on Baker. After he scored his 1000th point as a Shocker Baker commented on his Twitter account, “After I scored my 1000th point as a Shocker I just looked up to my dad in the stands and winked. He winked back at me. I’m so lucky to be a part of such a tradition and family at WSU & to all those I’ve met in the process.” Another community that Baker has the full support of is that of the Citizen Band Potawatomi where he is an enrolled member. Citizen Band District 4 Legislator Theresa Adame opened up about the Navarre family who Baker is descended from. Adame told the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Newspaper in April 2013, “The Navarre family has always had a very competitive spirit and been athletically talented and I am happy to see Ron excel at this level of competition.”
Haskell sophomore Felicia Butler is a Wichita native and a member of the Citizen Band Potawatomi. Butler had kind words about Baker, “Ron has made me want to become something and be able to represent my tribe in a positive manner. I appreciate what he does for children with Cancer and other life threatening diseases. He’s really inspiring.”
Baker has done a great deal of positive things on his journey since small town Scott City. When he was asked what advice he would give to young people looking to follow in his footsteps he stated, ““If I give them any advice, it’s just be coach-able in life. Listen to your peers. Let your guidance from your peers take you where you want to go.”