Feature photo courtesy of Judy Santos.
It’s a pretty fair bet that most up-and-coming basketball guards wouldn’t mind being compared to an elite NBA point guard. But to be compared to 2015 NBA Finals champion and Golden State Warriors lead man Stephen Curry? That’s an honor on a different level.
Geo Baker, a high school point guard out of Derry, New Hampshire, has achieved that honor due to his skilled ability to shoot off the dribble.
“I didn’t really model my game after him, but a lot of people say that I play like him,” Baker said. “His shooting off the dribble is just insane, how quick he releases the shot.”
Baker considers shooting the best part of his own game, and his ability to make shots from all over the court (like Curry) helps stretch the floor. He has gotten offers from 10 Division I schools, including the University of New Hampshire, College of the Holy Cross, Boston University and George Mason University, though he does not yet know when he’ll decide on a school.
“I’m just enjoying the process,” he said. He shared what he looks for in a college program, and said that atop his wish list is the opportunity to make a difference and play right away. He also said he wants a coaching staff that will occasionally let him take the reins.
“Obviously I’m going to be listening to my coach very closely,” he said. “But let me make a couple of decisions on my own, let me make a couple plays.”
Baker’s basketball successes have been backed up by hard work with his trainer, TJ Thompson, who he says is his biggest basketball mentor. He and Thompson, who is also the coach of Baker’s AAU team, the Blue Devils – NH, work on improving Baker’s shooting through the process of repetition.
“Every day we’ll get chairs, we’ll get cones,” Baker said, and they’ll work on sharpening his most powerful offensive tool, “shooting off the dribble, off the catch. We make sure we get a ton of shots up and he really helps me with my dribble, just to get open and get three.”
Thompson has been a part of Baker’s basketball journey since the guard, now a junior, was in sixth grade. But Thompson’s involvement has been one of only a few consistencies Baker has relied on throughout his middle school and high school careers.
Baker said he has been playing varsity basketball since eighth grade, despite a major growth spurt not coming until after his freshman season. At age 15, Baker sprung from 5-foot-7-inches (“I was tiny,” he recalls) to 6-foot-3-inches, his current height. His freshman year, which he spent at Buckingham Browne & Nichols, a day school in Cambridge, Mass., Baker and his team made it to the Class A New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Final Four.
“I wouldn’t say I was a huge contributor [to that game], but I got to play a lot,” he said. “I didn’t get any turnovers.”
The following season, his sophomore year, Baker attended Pinkerton Academy in his hometown of Derry. In the Division I New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA) championship game, Baker’s team lost to its town rival, Londonderry High School, by a single point. “It was crazy,” Baker said. “The game was insane.”
The semifinal game before that buzzer-beating loss, though, is one that stands out in Baker’s mind as a personal best.
“I had 33 points,” Baker said. “I was just on fire from three.” He said Londonderry saw his performance that game and came into the championship game with the goal of stifling his offense. Londonderry was able to hold him to 12 points, but when he noticed pressure on his shooting, he slipped into the more traditional point guard role and dished out eight assists.
This upcoming season, Baker will play for Proctor Academy, a private boarding school in Andover, N.H. He hopes to finally achieve the postseason success he came so close to tasting both his freshman and sophomore years.
“Recently the basketball team [at Proctor] hasn’t been great,” he said. But by working toward improvement this preseason, he hopes to turn that around. When asked about his personal goals for this year, Baker said he wants to get his name out to bigger colleges, as well as “get stronger, definitely get to the hoop more, and become more of a leader. I don’t think I talk enough yet on the court and that’s something I need to work on a lot.” With these changes, Baker is confident about his junior campaign.
“I think this year is going to be a great year for us,” he said. There’s no way to be sure, but that’s probably what Stephen Curry is thinking, too.