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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (AP) — Patrick Baldwin Jr. has been wowing his new University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther teammates all summer. In practices for the Horizon League school where his father, Patrick Baldwin Sr., is the head coach, he effortlessly hit long 3-pointers, placed the ball between his knees in mid-air, and dunked.
Despite Baldwin Jr.’s skill, Vin Baker Jr. believed two of his colleagues had caught the 6-foot-9 five-star recruit dribbling across the floor during a casual game. Baker assumed he’d have no choice but to pass the ball.
He was completely incorrect.
Baker, a Boston College transfer and the son of former NBA player Vin Baker Sr., “executed a double, behind-the-back move and completed the layup, pointed at both of the defenders and began to go back on defense,” Baker recalled. “That’s when I realized this child had a lot of potential.”
But how does a predicted lottery pick (he’s ranked No. 8 in ESPN’s Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects for 2022) choose a mid-major over Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, and other powerful programs?
Baldwin Jr. has assembled a team to assist him in proving the critics incorrect about his choice to relocate to Milwaukee. Ashley Steltenpohl is a model and actress.
Baldwin Jr. was watching the Milwaukee Bucks’ quest to their first NBA championship in 50 years on a pair of giant screens in the Deer District, just outside the newly built Fiserv Forum. When Giannis Antetokounmpo and his colleagues defeated the Phoenix Suns to win the NBA title for the first time since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1971, they transformed Milwaukee into a basketball-loving metropolis and confirmed the aspirations of local hoopsters.
While the opportunity to play for his father drew Baldwin Jr. to Milwaukee, another consideration arose as he weighed his choices over the past year. Baldwin Jr. started to wonder whether he, too, could follow in Antetokounmpo’s footsteps and bring an underdog to national fame.
“Just seeing him in a little market and seeing how he transformed a city like this is something that really inspired me to come to [Milwaukee],” Baldwin Jr. said.
Milwaukee is an unusual option for a young star forward like Baldwin Jr., who averaged 7.7 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per possession for the USA Basketball team that won gold at the FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup in Latvia in July. Milwaukee has a 47-70 record under Baldwin Sr., who has yet to complete a season over 500 points.
Even though it goes against the norm for five-star recruits, the Baldwins think their combination will be successful. In the past 15 years, the Panthers have only made it to the playoffs once (2014). However, the NBA club had similar difficulties. When Baldwin Sr. took the job in Milwaukee in 2017, the Bucks had just exited the playoffs for the eighth time in a row in the first round.
Baldwin Jr. was a fan of the Chicago Bulls at the time. While his father was an assistant coach at Northwestern, he spent his middle school years in Chicago watching Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. The Bucks, on the other hand, grew on him when the family relocated to Milwaukee, mostly due to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who came as a skinny Greek prospect and developed into a two-time MVP.
As they’ve seen Giannis and the Bucks alter the story of their franchise, the Baldwins have taken inspiration from them. They hope to be able to do the same for this charming college campus on the shores of Lake Michigan.
“You can certainly see the shift in how people look about Milwaukee from a sporting standpoint,” Baldwin Sr. said. “With a championship, Giannis and the Bucks have obviously changed it much more. We hope to be able to catch some of it.”
“Isn’t he like a top-five prospect?” When Milwaukee Bucks power player Bobby Portis heard about Baldwin Jr., he inquired.
“It’s just great to hear how he’s taking pride in where he’s from, taking pleasure in his city, his hometown,” Bucks center Brook Lopez said of Baldwin Jr.
Milwaukee (population: 594,000) is a big little town, and the basketball culture has always reflected that. Giannis demonstrated this by going live on Instagram from a Chick-fil-A drive-thru the morning after leading his team to the NBA title. His approachability continues a tradition of Bucks players who have assimilated into their communities.
Baldwin Jr.’s skills as a passer, ball handler, and perimeter shooter have pleased coaches, scouts, and teammates, especially those on the U-19 USA team. FIBA
NBA stars would come up for pickup games versus the locals in Lincoln Park, the city’s most lively playground court, in the 1980s and 1990s. Tim Thomas’ Bentley was often parked outside Gee’s Clippers, a famous barbershop frequented by pro sportsmen in town, on Saturday mornings. You could run across Sam Cassell at a local high school game the night before a big NBA game, or Ray Allen at the movies. The Bucks never acquired a feeling of hubris or demanded a pedestal in the decades after Abdul-departure Jabbar’s in 1975, and they were marked by inconsistency. They were well aware that they had not earned it.
Baldwin Jr.’s attitude is in keeping with the character of this blue-collar town. He’s a quiet athlete who only displays his confidence on the court or when he’s defeating his teammates in Madden. Video games, basketball, family, and more basketball are a big part of his life. On Instagram, he has 34,000 followers and just six posts, all of which are basketball-related. When asked how he would spend a day off, he replied he would most likely go to the gym.
Despite not playing at a major school, Baldwin Jr. thinks he can still accomplish his NBA goals because to his dedication and ability.
“I believe it just speaks to the caliber of NBA scouting: if you’re good, they’ll go out of their way to discover you,” Baldwin Jr. said. “At the same time, I’m dubious because there aren’t many men who are doing what I’m doing. That just motivates me to work even harder since the odds are stacked against me at the moment.”
Recent collegiate basketball patterns indicate he’s probably correct.
In the first round of the 2021 NBA draft, four players from non-Power 5 colleges were selected. Their draft prospects were not reduced by their school profiles. Baldwin’s decision, according to NBA sources, will still allow him to be thoroughly evaluated.
Patrick Baldwin Jr. aspires to accomplish the same thing for Milwaukee that Giannis Antetokounmpo has done for the Bucks. Ashley Steltenpohl is a model and actress.
“We’re certainly going to see him, and I’ve got two to three of us going to watch him practice,” one Eastern Conference official told ESPN. “We already have games in November and December on the calendar.” “He’s in an NBA city, and he’s just two hours away from another (Chicago). It’s simple to locate him.”
Staying at home has additional advantages. Baldwin will earn the admiration of a city that will likely accompany him throughout his life if he can lead the Panthers to their second NCAA tournament appearance since 2006. Former Milwaukee standout Joah Tucker says people still question him about his 32-point performance against Illinois in the program’s lone Sweet 16 trip in 2005.
“I believe this encourages some other kids to remain at home and do what I did and stay in the city and truly punch your ticket,” he said of Baldwin Jr.’s decision. “The options are limitless. After accomplishing what we did and making our run, I’m a made man in Milwaukee. I still talk about it with individuals at the bank and with others with whom I do business.”
Patrick Baldwin Sr. will sometimes look at the photograph.
He’s cradling his newborn baby at the free-throw line at a gym during his time as an assistant coach at UW-Green Bay, one of his five stops before coming to Milwaukee, in the picture.
As his son’s career developed, Baldwin Sr. kept him close to the game. That was their chance to make contact. Baldwin Jr. would ask his father to pick him up while he was an assistant coach at Loyola from 2004 to 2011, so he could dunk. He would come down to the bench during games and fetch water for the players.
Patrick Baldwin Sr. provided this image.
Baldwin Jr.’s father taught him the skills that have made him the versatile prospect he is now as he developed into a brilliant young player.
Baldwin Jr. stated, “He’s given me a basketball IQ to the point where there aren’t many guys you can put in front of me that I can’t handle.” “Is there someone I can’t stand? I need to put in more effort and improve.”
Baldwin Sr. backed off as he approached his final year of high school, despite making his case to his son early in the recruitment process. At supper, his son’s whereabouts were not discussed. On walks with their dog or family excursions with his wife and three children, they didn’t talk about it. When his son had concerns about the other colleges interested in him, Baldwin Sr. acted as a father rather than a worried head coach.
Then he got a text message months before signing day: Baldwin Jr. had chosen Milwaukee. He wasn’t persuaded, though, that his son was certain about his decision.
Baldwin Sr. remarked, “I didn’t know what to think.” “I didn’t want to push the issue with him since it was a difficult choice for him to make, and I didn’t want it to become a squabble. So I tried to avoid it, as well as talking to him about it.”
Baldwin Jr., on the other hand, quickly signed his statement of intent for his father, who refers to his son as his “best buddy.”
“I’d want to be pretty much wherever my dad is coaching,” Baldwin Jr. said.
If Baldwin Jr. chooses to turn pro following his freshman season, the player-coach connection will be a one-year experiment for them.
However, there is already evidence that their combination has aided the squad. Baldwin Sr. said he can now approach his son for team perspective, and Baldwin Jr. claimed his father has already aided him in becoming a better leader.
When basketball is involved, they are at their most relaxed.
Their shared passion for the game has always been central to their relationship. Baldwin Sr. has tried various methods to communicate with his son, but they haven’t been as effective.
He said, “There was a moment when I attempted something on Xbox with him that I couldn’t comprehend.” “It was probably the [NBA 2K] thing. I couldn’t tell you what the controls were because I didn’t know what they were.”
Baldwin Jr. said, “I have the Charlotte Hornets, who have Kemba Walker, and this is from around two years ago. Kemba is driving me insane. He also had the greatest Lakers of all time, including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaq. He had everyone under his control. He didn’t have any justifications.”
FIBA U-19 World Cup champion; No. 4 recruit in the Class of 2021; predicted No. 8 pick in the NBA draft in 2022. Will Baldwin Jr. be able to replicate his father’s success with the Horizon League program? FIBA
Supporters of the show may feel the same way this season. However, Baldwin Jr.’s participation has raised the team’s profile.
Last year, Milwaukee’s players were undetected across the city. When they’re at restaurants, people now point at them. Students approach them around campus to express their enthusiasm for the next season.
“A lot of our guys would go out around the city, just going grocery shopping or getting something to eat, and then they’ll be stopped and people will know them,” Baldwin Jr. said. “So the city has already shown its affection.”
Baldwin’s colleagues aim to back up his optimism with results, demonstrating to the skeptics that Baldwin did not settle for an inferior program.
“We want to show him and his family that he didn’t make the wrong choice,” DeAndre Gholston, who led the team in scoring last season with 16.8 points per game, said.
After studying Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, Patrick Baldwin Jr. thinks he has the blueprint to lead this club. A year ago, the Bucks’ surge looked improbable.
On the college level, even with Baldwin Jr.’s star power, a mediocre Horizon League team hoping to enter the NCAA tournament and go on a run could encounter comparable skepticism. The Panthers, on the other hand, are unconcerned about their doubts.
They live in a city where dreams have come true for them. They now think it is possible for them as well.
“With all due respect to the other institutions who recruited me,” Baldwin Jr. said, “I’ve never been a person who was all about the big lights.” “I still come to play when the lights are turned on, but I’m not the kind of player who needs the attention to do well.”
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