Thursday, March 18, 2010

the recruit: Billy Baron

The ultimate play-for-the-moment event is underway in college basketball, which means we might as well look to the future, right? Earlier this month we learned of a late addition to the group of five - now six - incoming freshmen that are going to kick-start the renaissance, Tony Bennett-style.

Name: Billy Baron
Position: PG
Hometown: East Greenwich, RI
School: Worcester Academy (MA)
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 185

ESPN: 88
Rivals: three stars
Scout: three stars, #37 PG

If you've got a secret that you're dying to tell someone, but you're still hoping it doesn't get around, try Tony Bennett. We saw it first with K.T. Harrell, a name we first heard maybe, what, a couple days before he made his commitment? If that? Billy Baron's got that beat. You would have had to be paying really close attention to some pretty far-away places to have ever heard his name in connection with UVA before March 2, when a Providence Journal article spilled the beans. That was the first time the name Baron really got out there, at least as far as UVA was concerned, and it was only just in time; a few hours after the article hit the airwaves, Baron was a UVA commit.

Truth be told? Baron had been on the Tony Bennett's radar a long, long time before that. Though he hadn't received a scholarship offer by the time he committed to the hometown Rhode Island Rams in October, the interest was there. Baron got his scholarship offer in December, which kind of makes you wonder what exactly's been going on behind the scenes in the basketball program. Who's had a foot out the door since then, you wonder?

Well, it doesn't matter. This is about Baron and the future. Baron would have been a BMOC at URI; his dad is the coach, and his older brother is a former Ram and the all-time A-10 three-point champion. I don't know how you tell your dad you're not gonna play for him after promising him you would, but that was the hardest part; since Baron wasn't eligible for a scholarship (his dad being a university employee) he didn't sign a letter of intent, so the NCAA rules side of this was the easy part.

UVA fans unfamiliar with Baron might be wondering just how excited they should be about a player who didn't have a lot of interest outside of the recruiting hotbed of Rhode Island and ended up committing to play for his dad. Rutgers and Seton Hall did offer, but still. Well, put those fears to rest. Baron transferred to Worcester Academy from Bishop Hendricken in the home state of Rhode Island, in order to get himself some better competition. Then, in an instance of impeccable timing, he broke his hand and was out all autumn. (Or thumb. Reports differ. It don't matter.)

When he came back, he got all the competition he asked for and more. Worcester plays in the NEPSAC (New England Prep School Athletic Council) Class A against some of the very best competition in the country. The players on these teams read like a who's-who of recruiting in the Northeast, and they're headed to places like Syracuse and Memphis. And Baron shone as bright as any of them, earning first-team honors in the league. It's because he does things like this, all the time: 41 points here, 30-odd points there. He averages 28, and throws in six assists for good measure. And his team is decidedly undermanned against most of the loaded and stacked teams they have for competition.

And then you have glowing character reports from all over. Let's go with ESPN's:

His toughness, work ethic, and will to win are absolutely off the charts and no one loves having the ball in pressure situations more than he does....It is very obvious that his effort does not only show up on game day. Baron has spent many hours honing his skills in the gym.
Sounds like the kind of guy you can root for. So how will all this translate to UVA? Well, as I said earlier, somebody in this class is going to get minutes, and lots of them. Probably a couple somebodies. Tony Bennett has proven he'll take effort, basketball IQ, and work ethic over talent. And that's not to say Baron doesn't have talent or that the other recruits don't have the work ethic, but Baron's the guy who's been praised for it, over and over. Coach's son, and you know Tony Bennett knows exactly what he wants to see from a coach's son. Baron's best described as a combo guard rather than a true point guard, but scoring from the point is something we're in desperate need of here. So you take someone who has the potential to provide that and throw in the work ethic Baron has, and I'd call it a pretty safe bet that we'll see Billy Baron on the court sooner rather than later. All in all, this adds up to the kind of player that UVA fans should be proud to call a Wahoo.

1 comment:

Scott said...

Thanks for this update on Baron. Sounds like a perfect match for Bennett and UVA hoops.