Written by Chris Pendleton
BUENA VISTA, Va.—Following an outstanding senior campaign in which she led her team in points (17.4 ppg), rebounds (9.3 rpg) and shooting percentage (58.6 percent), Nicole Baker recently became the first women’s basketball player in three seasons to earn USCAA All-American honors.
"Nicole epitomized an All-American the entire season," said thirteen-year head coach Mike Harmon. "She led by example and always did exactly what her team needed."
Harmon explained that when the team needed Baker to carry more of the scoring load during the second half of the season, the senior captain stepped up her game to a new level averaging 23.7 points over Southern Virginia's final 13 games after averaging 10.0 points over the Knights' first 11 contests.
Baker (Burley, Idaho) earned Honorable Mention All-American honors last year, but the Knights lost both of their games at the national tournament resulting in a disappointing end to her junior season.
“We didn’t play up to our potential last year,” said Baker. “I want to end my final year on a positive not. This year is about redemption for us.”
Baker definitely lived up to her All-American billing at this year's national tournament helping the Knights to their first postseason win since 2009, while earning All-Tournament honors after averaging 26 points and 13 rebounds during Southern Virginia’s during two games at nationals.
Baker, who married her high school sweetheart Matt Baker last August after he returned from two-years of mission service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brisben, Austrailia, said she chose Southern Virginia following community college for its LDS environment.
“I wanted to play in a good environment, surrounded by good people,” said Baker. “When I was recruited by Coach Harmon, I fell in love with the atmosphere and the teammates I met. I knew I would be comfortable living my standards.”
When asked about her favorite part of the academic experience at Southern Virginia, Baker replied, “I really like the small class sizes. Even though classes are discussion oriented and I’m quite, it forces me out of my comfort zone and I learn a lot.”
A liberal arts major who will graduate in May, Baker said her favorite class at Southern Virginia was Chemistry with Dr. Barbara van Kuiken.
“After I graduate, I will reflect on what a good experience I had at Southern Virginia University,” said Baker. “I’ve made such great friends and so many lasting memories. I grew so much academically and spiritually. My experience here really affected my life for the better.”