By Kyle Inman
Northeastern Junior College guard Garrett Baggett has signed a national letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Texas Permian Basin Falcons next season.
UTPB went 26-6 last season, winning the Lone Star Conference and earning a berth in the Division II National Tournament. Baggett chose to play for the Falcons because of their success and a system that plays to his strengths.
"I just chose them because I felt it was the best fit for me with regards to being as successful as I can be," Baggett said. "They have a very fast style of play and they shoot a lot of threes, which translates right into my game so I feel like I can have the most impact there."
Baggett led Northeastern in scoring at 17 points per game while shooting a blistering 45 percent from beyond the three-point line. UTPB has a void at the guard position after graduating a point guard that shot over 200 three-pointers last season. Baggett's ability to shoot accurately from distance is a skill that translates to any level.
"I think that's one of the things they looked at is a kid that can really, really shoot the ball," Northeastern head coach Eddie Trenkle said. "When he came on his visit here that's one of the things that stood out is that he never missed a shot. He's a piece that they are missing there. He'll walk in and he'll be an instant contributor because that's one thing they don't have is a guy that can shoot."
"Everything I did off the dribble improved drastically," Baggett said. "Now I can make a move into a shot. I learned how to create my shot a lot better than when I came here."
Many junior college basketball players are highly recruited kids trying to get to a Division I school. Baggett wasn't highly recruited coming out of high school due to size and strength, but work ethic allowed him to turn himself into a prized recruit as he leaves Northeastern.
"In his three years he's been with me, he's had more growth than any kid I've ever coached just because of the time and effort that he's put into it," Trenkle said.
Trenkle said Baggett is one of the toughest competitors that he's ever coached at Northeastern. Standing at 6 feet tall and 170 pounds, it's that competitiveness that has allowed him to excel at the junior college level.
"With his size, he has to be a competitor to be good in college," the coach said. "He has to be one of those kids that does something extra special to be out there on the floor. A lot of people don't know this about him, but he's one of the best one-on-one defenders I've had here. He can shut down little guards, can shut down bigger guards. He's shifty and hard to guard; people can't stay in front of him. Everything he does will translate well to the next level."
Baggett knows that joining a contender at a higher level will be a big transition, but he hopes the right mindset will allow him to get acclimated to a new school and new teammates. He will play for coach Andy Newman.
"They already have chemistry and they've won together. Now you add a new piece that does different things like shooting and scoring so shots may be taken from somebody," Baggett said. "I need to make sure everybody knows that I'm for the team more than just myself."
Baggett plans to major in Sports Management and has a goal to own his own business one day, but will try to live out his hoop dreams first. His goal has always been to play professionally overseas after college. He has an opportunity if he plays well as the Falcons have sent 22 players to play professionally in the last four years.
"I just have to perform and hopefully I can make something happen out there. Getting overseas has been a big goal of mine; it's been my dream since I was little."
Baggett said a fighter's mentality due to the structure of junior college basketball — where everybody is playing to get themselves to a higher level — will help him to succeed in Division II. He plans to compete for a starting spot immediately next season.
Kyle Inman: 970-526-9298, firstname.lastname@example.org