Patrick Baldwin Jr., a five-star prospect in the 2021 class, made his college decision on Wednesday, choosing to play for his father Patrick Baldwin Sr. at Milwaukee over offers from traditional powers Duke and Georgetown. Baldwin, ranked No. 4 nationally in the 247 Sports Composite Rankings, would have vaulted Duke to No. 1 in the team rankings with a commitment, and also would have become the highest-rated recruit in the rankings era for Georgetown had he picked the Hoyas. Instead, he'll stay home in Wisconsin as the elder Baldwin is entering his fifth season as Milwaukee coach where he's accumulated a 47-70 overall record.
The Panthers have not yet recorded a winning season since Baldwin's hire in 2017 and have only four above-.500 seasons since 2010-11, but Baldwin Jr. is an outlook-changer who in 2021-22 could reverse their fortunes. He joins a roster that went 10-12 overall but is expected to have plenty of experience around him, highlighted by leading scorer DeAndre Gholston, who averaged 16.8 points per game last season.
Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander examine No. 4 overall prospect Pat Baldwin Jr.'s commitment to Milwaukee on the latest Eye on College Basketball podcast. Listen and subscribe below.
A combo forward with athletic pop and destined to be a lottery pick, Baldwin Jr. was at one point a contender to be the top player in the class. He averaged 24.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game as a junior, earning Gatorade Player of the Year honors in the state. But his senior season ended abruptly after sustaining an ankle injury in his second game. In the months that followed, Milwaukee emerged as the likely landing spot because of his father's role with the program. While Duke and others -- including Michigan, Northwestern, Georgetown and North Carolina -- made a push, it's hard to compete when in-home recruiting visits from a coach are quite literally facilitated in your own home like Patrick Baldwin did with his son last April.
With the NCAA prohibiting coaches from "face-to-face" contact with recruits through May 31, the Baldwins did something that reflects the times. Pat, who is recruiting his sought-after son, interacted with Patrick via a Zoom video call. The father was upstairs, the son down in the kitchen with his mother, Shawn. [Via the Chicago Tribune]
Turning down offers from blueblood schools is not uncommon among top recruits in recent years. Five-stars Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley chose to play last season at Oklahoma State and USC, respectively. The year before, five-star RJ Hampton played overseas, while top-10 talents Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart played one-and-done years at Washington.
Baldwin, however, is the first top-five prospect in his class since Tyreke Evans in 2008 at Memphis to commit to a college program that, at the time, was outside the Major 7 conference structure. Derrick Rose did the same the year prior with the Tigers, and both went on to be top-five draft picks. Baldwin has long been primed to join those ranks as a surefire lottery pick in 2022, regardless of his college choice.
"From an NBA perspective he has not only significant 3 and D potential as a forward, but his athleticism is getting better - which could mean future star status if everything continues to come together," 247Sports' Brian Snow said in scouting him in 2018. "Add in that he is a son of a coach who has been around the game his whole life, and Baldwin checks nearly every box you could want out of a prospect. Looks like he will develop into an NBA lottery pick."