Former Dunbar basketball teammates going in different directions

Published: Monday, April 16, 2018 @ 4:51 PM
Updated: Monday, April 16, 2018 @ 5:32 PM

Spire Academy seniors Caleb McConnell (left) and Devon Baker, both transfers from Dunbar, address an 80-70 defeat of host Fairmont in the 16th Annual Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop opener at Trent Arena in Kettering on Fri., Jan. 12, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Former Dunbar High School basketball standouts Caleb McConnell and DeVon Baker are moving in the opposite directions.

On Sunday, McConnell announced via Twitter he has verbally committed to Rutgers University. On Monday, Baker also went to Twitter to announce he was opening his recruitment after previously committing to Siena (N.Y.).

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Both transferred last summer from Dunbar to a relatively new branch of Spire Institute at Geneva, Ohio, for their senior seasons.

Caleb McConnell of Spire Academy fires over Fairmont defenders. Fairmont played Spire in the Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop opener at Trent Arena on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

“I love the tradition of the school, the academics and the direction Coach (Steve) Pikiell has the program going in,” McConnell said to The Knight Report. “I want to become an impact player at Rutgers. I want to be someone who makes a difference right away.”

»RELATED: Dunbar standouts transferring to Spire

Baker listed Siena among the schools he would still consider. That would likely depend on who succeeds Jimmy Patsos as coach. He resigned last Friday following an 8-24 season and school investigation into “abusive conduct to financial improprieties within the program” according to the Associated Press.

“Due to the circumstances at Siena, I have decided to open up my recruitment and see what other schools might be food fits for me and my family,” he tweeted. “All options, including Siena, are on the table.”

This news outlet has reached out to both for comment.

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Both McConnell and Baker were the leading returning scorers for Dunbar following their junior seasons in 2016-17. A 6-foot-5 guard, McConnell averaged 13.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists for the Wolverines that season. Baker, a 6-2 guard, 16.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists.

Dunbar’s Devon Baker. Dunbar defeated Cin. Wyoming 66-56 in a boys high school basketball D-II district final at UD Arena on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Dunbar was 24-4 that season, losing to Trotwood-Madison in a Division II regional final. However, that would be the last game then-coach Pete Pullen would be in place at Dunbar, although he wasn’t officially not renewed until that fall.

Both McConnell and Baker averaged double digits in scoring at Spire (22-6). They returned to Kettering with Spire for the Good Samaritan Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop in January, posting an 80-70 defeat of host Fairmont in the Flyin’ opener. Baker led Spire with 22 points and McConnell tallied 19.

»RELATED: All-Area girls basketball

McConnell was ranked a three-star prospect by 247Sports.com and chose Rutgers over West Virginia, Wichita State, UMass, St. Bonaventure, Akron and Ohio among other offers. The Scarlet Knights were 15-19 overall and 3-15 in the Big Ten this past season.

»TWITTER: You should like @MarcPendleton

Joining McConnell as a Rutgers recruit is 6-6 wing Ron Harper Jr. of Don Bosco (N.J.) Prep. He’s the son of Ron Harper, who excelled at Kiser High School, Miami University and won five championships in a 16-season NBA career from 1986-2001. Harper Jr. signed last November.

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