Duke

Duke commit Joey Baker shakes off injury, scores 13 in front of Blue Devils’ coaches

Trinity Christian forward Joey Baker, top middle, left the game against Greene Central early in the first half on Wednesday due to an injury. He returned in the second half to score 13 points in front of his future Duke coaches.
Trinity Christian forward Joey Baker, top middle, left the game against Greene Central early in the first half on Wednesday due to an injury. He returned in the second half to score 13 points in front of his future Duke coaches. Photo Courtesy of John Wall Holiday Invitational

Duke commit Joey Baker took a nasty fall right in front of his future coaches on Wednesday.

At the 1:42 mark of the first half against Garner in the David West Bracket of the John Wall Holiday Invitational, Baker, a 6-7 small forward from Trinity Christian in Fayetteville, went in for a layup and was fouled hard. Baker hit the floor and a thud was heard across Holiday Gym.

It appeared Baker hit the side of his head, but he was favoring his hip when he eventually got up. After the game he confirmed that it was his hip that he landed on. Baker was so hurt that he couldn’t even shoot his free throws. So with just five points in six minutes of play, Baker, the future Blue Devil, headed to the locker room.

With Duke assistants Jeff Capel, Nate James and Jon Scheyer watching, it looked like the trio of assistant coaches made the trip for nothing.

But after halftime, with the Crusaders down 10, Baker came out and tried out the injury, taking some shots to see how he felt. Baker started the third quarter with a 3-pointer and played the rest of the game, finishing with 13 points in a 81-67 loss to Garner.

“I would have come back regardless,” Baker said. “But knowing (the Duke coaches) were out there … I didn’t want them to come out for no reason, I guess. I only played a couple of minutes in the first half, but I wanted to be there for my team, I wanted to let them know I had their backs.”

Baker said he “shook off” the injury and would be ready for the second day of the tournament.

Baker, the No. 24 ranked player in the Class of 2019, according to 247Sports, committed to Duke on Oct. 29, not too long after the Blue Devils made an offer to the five-star forward. Baker is averaging 18.7 points per game this season, and shooting 42 percent from 3-point range. The junior said he would ice the hip, but knew he would feel it the next game.

“It’s going to be tough,” Baker said. “I think I’ll be good to go, but we will see.”

Jonas Pope IV: 919-419-6501, @JEPopeIV

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