Baker, 5-star center, chooses Texas over UCLA

Five-star center Will Baker announced his commitment to Texas on Thursday afternoon.

Baker, the No. 7-ranked center in the country, chose the Longhorns over UCLA. He officially visited both schools over the summer.

Baker is an Austin native who attends Westlake High School, which is about 7 miles from Texas’ campus. Longhorns coach Shaka Smart made him a priority for the 2019 class early in the process, offering him back in January 2017. UCLA made a push, with Baker taking his first visit to the Bruins’ campus in May 2017, but Texas maintained a strong position throughout his recruitment, even once the likes of Kansas and North Carolina became involved.

Ranked No. 26 in the ESPN 100 for 2019, Baker is 7-foot lefty who can score inside and out. He has soft hands and touch around the basket, but has continued to become much more of a face-up threat. In fact, nearly half his field goal attempts on the grassroots circuit last spring and summer were from behind the 3-point line. Baker had a strong July period, averaging 18.6 points and 8.0 rebounds after switching to the Under Armour Association circuit with the Texas Hard Work grassroots program.

Baker gives Smart his second top-50 commitment in the 2019 class, as breakout star Kai Jones (No. 45) picked the Longhorns earlier this fall. Three-star shooting guard Donovan Williams pledged back in September. Texas is still in the mix for elite forward Jaden McDaniels, although the Longhorns have work to do to catch up with Washington, San Diego State and Kentucky.

Since Smart took over at Texas in the spring of 2015, he has landed 13 ESPN 100 prospects and three five-star recruits, not including the three who signed with Texas in the 2015 class.

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