Baer gets his scholarship

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Iowa’s Nicholas Baer shoots over a Drake player. The Hawkeyes beat the Bulldogs 70-64 in the Big Four Classic (Joshua Housing/The Daily Iowan)

There has been some roster turnover on the Iowa basketball team, but there’s at least one player who won’t leave the team for a while.

Redshirt freshman Nicholas Baer lost his walk-on status on Thursday when head coach Fran McCaffery announced that the 6-7 forward from Bettendorf has been awarded a scholarship.

There was speculation after freshmen Brandon Hutton and Andrew Fleming decided to transfer that Baer would be the recipient of one of the newly vacated scholarships, and Thursday’s announcement confirmed that.

“It has always been a goal of mine to achieve a scholarship, and I’m thankful that I have achieved that goal,” Baer said in a release. “But more so, I’m thankful for all of my teammates who have pushed me to make me a better player and the support I’ve received from Hawkeye fans.”

Baer became a fan favorite in the midst of Iowa’s run to a No. 3-ranking by the Associated Press, displaying the kind of hustle and smart play that any good team needs. He averaged 4.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game and used his length to finish second on the team with 19 blocks.

He impressed fans all season and his teammates just as much. When the season came to an end against Villanova in Brooklyn, a game in which Baer had 15 points and 4 rebounds, the common belief in the locker room was that Baer wouldn’t be a walk-on for much longer.

“He’ll be getting a scholarship I would assume,” Adam Woodbury said after the season. “A hell of a guy; he works hard every day, does what you expect of him and even exceeded everybody’s expectations.”

With Baer being more than just a good player, Iowa’s graduating seniors believe that the Hawkeyes have locked up one of the team’s more important leaders for the next few years.

“At the end of his college career, he won’t be a walk-on,” Anthony Clemmons said. “I believe he somehow, some way, will get a scholarship. I’m proud of the way he came and stepped in; since the day he was on our team, he never backed down.

“I have really big expectations for Nicholas Baer.”

The day for Baer’s scholarship has come not a moment too late, and the team will now look for him to start easing into a leadership role. McCaffery believes he’ll slide in perfectly.

“He really worked hard his redshirt year to figure out what he needed to do to be successful at this level,” the coach said in a relase. “He affects the game with his energy, basketball instincts, shooting, rebounding, defense, and he doesn’t make mistakes. He’s everything you want on the floor, especially with the way we play. I’m excited about having him in our program for the next three years.”

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