MILWAUKEE — He's one of the top-ranked recruits in the nation, a McDonald's All-America team selection, and an expected lottery pick in the NBA. Patrick Baldwin of Sussex Hamilton ended all speculation Wednesday when he announced his decision to commit to the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.
He made the decision on ESPN Wednesday morning.
According to ESPN's National Recruiting Director, Paul Biancardi, his choice was between Georgetown, Duke, and the Milwaukee Panthers. It's not the normal "final three" for top prospects.
The Panthers held the ultimate trump card though. Georgetown is coached by NBA all-star and NCAA legend Patrick Ewing. Duke is guided by the legendary Mike Krzyzewski. But Milwaukee's coach is Patrick's father, Pat Baldwin, who is entering his fifth season at the helm.
It's hard to overstate how unique the decision is in the college basketball world.
There have been plenty of father-son combos before, including a couple of famous pairings in our state. Allie McGuire played for Al McGuire at Marquette in the early 1970s, and Tony Bennett starred for Dick Bennett at UW-Green Bay from 1988-1992. But even though recruiting rankings weren't bombarding fans with "top-100" lists back then, neither McGuire nor Bennett was regarded as the prospect Baldwin is.
Add to that, Marquette was a top-five team in the country, while UWGB was among the top mid-major powers during Tony Bennett's career. Milwaukee is fighting year-to-year for respect in the Horizon League. The Panthers have made four NCAA appearances since 2003, the last one coming in 2014, but sustained success has eluded them.
Baldwin would be the program's most decorated recruit in program history. He's been considered a top-five recruit in the Class of 2021 from the start. He's listed as a top-10 pick in nearly every mock of the 2022 NBA Draft. A player of his profile with local ties would almost certainly provide a boost to the Milwaukee program in the standings and in the seats. The Panthers ranked eighth among the 10-team Horizon League in attendance with just over 1,500 fans, according to the website Stadium.
The Horizon League will also get some shine with Baldwin's arrival. The last player from the conference picked in the first round of the NBA Draft was Cleveland State's Norris Cole in 2011. Add a star like Baldwin to the league, and you'll likely see some highlights on ESPN and perhaps a few more games get televised.
What's all the fuss about? Simply put, Baldwin has most things talent-evaluators seek. The 6-foot-9 forward is a deadly shooter, who averaged 24.3 points and 10.8 rebounds as a junior at Sussex Hamilton. Though he is considered more smooth and efficient than explosive, scouts say his athleticism has improved each season. His senior season was cut short when he injured his ankle in the second game of the season.
The Duke fan website balldurham.com says in 2018, Baldwin was the youngest player to receive an offer from Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski. A Chicago Tribune article in 2020 said the Duke coach told his friends he viewed Baldwin as the "perfect recruit."
But while Krzyzewski is a legend, he is not Patrick's father. Pat Baldwin is considered a good coach among college observers, and clearly Patrick found playing college basketball for his dad was too good an opportunity to bypass.