Q&A with top-five junior Patrick Baldwin
Possessing arguably the skillset that might translate the greatest from the prep ranks and into the professional realm, Patrick Baldwin sits as one of the more recruited and coveted prospects within the graduating 2021 class. Choosing a school will not come easy in which Baldwin’s father, Pat Baldwin, is the head coach at UW-Milwaukee, thought the five-star has been adamant that it is an open race for his decision and that he has a thorough, concise plan in mind in making his commitment.
In our latest Q-and-A, the top-five junior discussed what the past few weeks have been like for him in light of the ongoing pandemic, how the coronavirus has impacted his recruitment and when he could see himself committing. He also entails the exact pitches from his top suitors, what it would mean for him to play for his father at Milwaukee, and feelings for the new G-League path that opened earlier in the month.
Corey Evans (CE): What has it been like the past month or so? This was supposed to be your last go-around on the travel circuit.
Pat Baldwin (PB): I mean, this summer was supposed to be the year where with 17-U, it was supposed to be the big stage and the team that I was going to be a huge factor on. It is disappointing that half of it has been taken away up until this point but for the last three weeks, it has relatively been the same routine outside of having to stay at home. We set up a court outside and have just used that as much as I can and then have a weight room in the garage so it has been an adjustment but it hasn’t been too bad thus far.
CE: Have you been in contact with a lot of schools?
PB: Yeah, it has been pretty much non-stop so it has been pretty hard to even dispute the coaches from the ones that even just see me here on YouTube so it has been pretty tough.
CE: Who has been in frequent contact with you throughout not just the past few weeks, but also throughout your junior year?
PB: There has been a lot so I don’t want to name them and miss a few but it has been a lot and it has actually been pretty nice. The big thing for me this year, my junior year, I wasn’t able to take as many visits that I had wanted to and I was supposed to take some visits this summer and next fall and then make my decision but it has been pretty nice because we have been able to make a lot of Zoom calls with coaches and the entire staff has been able to check in with me so it has been pretty nice.
CE: Where were you looking to visit this spring or summer?
PB: We never really decided on which places and we are still talking about it now but there is a short list of schools that I am looking at now and pretty much if I am talking to them, I have some vested interest in them. I am not going to release it but we have talked to a few schools about getting onto campus in the coming months.
CE: Where have you been in the last few months?
PB: I was at Duke, Northwestern and North Carolina. Those have been practically the only schools that I have been able to get to so far, and obviously, UWM. We tried to make arrangements to get to a few more schools unofficially but it has been tough because of my dad’s season and my sisters are in sports so it has been tough.
CE: Those were all unofficial visits, correct?
CE: Does this push your timeline back further and into a late signing with all that is going on now?
PB: I am not too sure about that right now. Even though I haven’t been able to get onto campus as much, it has been kind of weird not playing basketball but I have been able to talk to coaches more now than in the past and I have been able to talk face to face with coaches more than I have in the past so I don’t know how it is going to affect it. It may even speed it up so I don’t know. It has been kind of a weird time so I don’t know how late it is going to push it or even how early it is going to push it.
CE: Let’s get to the colleges and with Duke, they have always been connected with you. What are your feelings for them as a whole?
PB: I have talked to Coach K and Coach (Jon) Scheyer; I love the coaching staff. Whenever I went there, the energy was amazing. Even the Cameron Crazies showed great love whenever I went there so it is definitely an atmosphere that any kid my age would want to play in and want to be in, along with be a part of the program. Whenever I was there, their facilities blew me away, their NBA players blew me away and, of course, their coaches did, too. It is just a really good program and a really good situation that I think, down the line, I could see myself in.
CE: You have a former travel teammate, Jalen Johnson, going there next year. Has he been in your ear at all?
PB: Yeah, he has been in my ear kind of off and on. I was kind of waiting to see how his season played out before I started talking to him a bit more about what his impressions are because of course, you don’t know what you have until you were to get there, but we have been talking off and on about Duke and he is trying to get me to come there. It has been pretty cool having someone that I played with from my own state go there; pretty much someone in my backyard that was in the same position that I was in a year ago and he could really help me through this.
CE: You visited North Carolina, too. What was different about that visit and the program compared to Duke?
PB: I mean, obviously it wasn’t a game so you can’t really get that game-like energy or atmosphere but I am sure that even if I went there for one, it would have been the same thing as far as the energy, the crowd, and the players. I took a tour of the facilities and got to know the coaches a little bit and Coach (Roy) Williams is a really good guy. We talked for a little bit during the visit. He had some really good and impressive stories to tell, especially about Michael Jordan and (Cameron) Johnson that just left and Justin Jackson. It was really cool to just visit those two programs on the same weekend and see they are the same with how they expect greatness out of its players but are also different in some respects.
CE: You have a unique connection with Northwestern with both mom and dad going to that school and also playing there. What does that and the program mean to you?
PB: The one that they have said is that the 2021 class is one that they expect to be big and really, they have talked to me about how I could step into that program right away and have a team that is built around what I can do. If you look at their roster and how it is constructed, they have a lot of freshmen and a lot of sophomores and they seem pretty young but whenever I would be there, they would be juniors and seniors and would have great size and length. Obviously, I love Coach (Chris) Collins and that staff along with Coach Brian James, and they just have a lot of pieces that a year down the road, they will be a solid team in the Big 10 and would be a situation that I would step in right away and be there for however long and enjoy myself but it would be a situation that I could come into and be the guy.
CE: I have to ask about Kentucky with you so, what has been there unique pitch to you?
PB: Their pitch has just been a lot of things that we knew going in which was that they produce a lot of NBA talent, play in the SEC, they have really good teams and talent in that league. A really big pitch is that they know that I am really talented but if you come to Kentucky, that they aren’t guaranteeing you anything. If you want to come here, you have to work and push yourself to be the best that you can be on your own and they will push you along the way but they aren’t going to promise anyone anything because they want you to come in with a good class and be alongside a lot of other good players and really, it is just going to be like a pro-style practice where they have scouts there and at almost all of their games and it is just going to be about who wants it more which is what Kentucky has always been about with all the prospects they have recruited.
CE: Was it nice to see someone from your area in Tyler Herro go there and do so well? Have they brought up that connection at all with you?
PB: Yeah, Coach Cal (John Calipari) talks about Tyler all the time. You can obviously see that Tyler loves Kentucky even whenever he left, he posts about them and talks about them all the time. Even though I came to Wisconsin during his senior year, I mean, it is just really cool to see him and how he progressed through his senior year and then picked up that offer from Kentucky and committed so it is just pretty cool to see that story from the same town and then to see him doing well with the Miami Heat.
CE: Kansas is another involved so where do they stand with you?
PB: Bill Self, you have rarely ever heard of a bad story about him and he is a really good guy. Obviously, my dad’s family is there so they live like an hour or two away from the arena so throughout my entire life, my dad’s side of the family hasn’t been able to watch me a lot because we have been living in the Midwest the majority of my life so they haven’t been able to come out to a lot of games and whenever they have, it has been really special. Even just playing at a place like Kansas, it is someplace where my grandparents who are getting older, could see me a little bit more and I would get to be able to get to know them better than I would if I went to a school further away and it is a winning program, obviously. You want to surround yourself with good people and winning attitudes so it would be about family and winning which intrigues me about that program.
CE: Speaking of the home state, Wisconsin seems to have made you a priority much earlier in the process compared to some others.
PB: Just being around the city and knowing how much people in Wisconsin and in Madison, especially, loves their Badgers, they love their football team and their basketball team, so it is just a school that draws in people. It is their appreciation from their fans and they have great facilities and great coaches. Coach (Greg) Gard, I remember whenever I was on an unofficial, how genuine he was whenever he offered me. I still talk to him relatively frequently. It is just a really good program and a place like Wisconsin, it is a team that everyone really looks at along with Marquette but really Wisconsin with its football and basketball, it is a program that has a lot of fan support.
CE: Last one is Milwaukee. We haven’t seen many or if any top-five prospects like yourself choose to play for their father in college over the blue bloods and other high-majors. What are your thoughts about doing just that?
PB: First and foremost, I would love to play for my dad. I don’t know where I would be without him and my parents, along with what his job is. It has opened up so many opportunities for me to be around players, to be at Final Fours, around so many coaches and high-level basketball, but at the end of the day, he has just been helping me make the best decision possible. Whether that is playing for him or not. He has been in my ear about what he thinks about coaches, programs and certain things that they do and how they have handled things in the past. He is my ear about just what is good and bad about a program and he hasn’t shown any bias towards his program or selfishness in any way about forcing me to come to his program because at the end of the day, he knows that it is my decision. I really appreciate him for that because even though my decision has been slowly progressing and moving along slowly, he has been in my ear pretty much every day and every time that I get off the phone with coaches or get done texting them, he is always there supporting me and really Milwaukee, it is a special place for me and my dad is a special coach for me so he will definitely be someone down the road, it would be hard to go away from.
CE: Last to mention, we saw earlier in the month the new G-League path gain some momentum. Give me your thoughts on that entire situation and if that would ever intrigue you.
PB: I haven’t done a lot of research to make an educated statement on that but I just feel that if people choose to go to the G-League, it is up to them and it is their decision. I am not going to sit here and say that I am against it because I want to see everyone succeed and if that is where people feel they fit best opposed to going to college, I will support it. Me and my parents, we talked about it whenever we heard about Jalen Green, but nothing of huge depth since that decision is a year away but we have talked about it off and on. Nothing really too heated or too deep but we look at it as just another option and, in the future, we will do more research on it and try to make the best decisions about the G-League or for going to college.