Even before he was considered the top player in the 2021 class, Patrick Baldwin Jr.’s perspective was that anyone occupying that spot in any class deserved it because of the work they’ve, “obviously,” put in to get there.
“You might have a different opinion of who should be there,” said Baldwin, a 6-foot-8 wing at Hamilton High School (Sussex, Wis.). “But whoever is No. 1 deserves it just as much as the guy someone else may think should be there.”
That said, Baldwin isn’t content enough in his standing to purchase a horse and ride off into the sunset, he’s brutally honest about the holes in his game, specifically when it comes to possessing the coveted killer instinct.
“I definitely don’t have it right now; I’ll be completely honest,” Baldwin said. “I’m developing that mindset and I just believe that it comes with confidence.”
Baldwin, whose father Patrick Sr. is the head coach at UW-Milwaukee, said that he formed his perspective after hearing something NBA Hall of Famer Grant Hill said.
“He said that looking back on his career he knew he was the best player,” Baldwin said of Hill. “But sometimes he struggled to find the confidence to be that guy consistently. That struck me. It’s something I don’t want to be able to say down the road.”
Baldwin averaged 17 points a game at Hamilton last season and pumped in 14 points per game this summer with Phenom University (Wis.) on the Nike EYBL, despite playing alongside multiple talented players like Nicolet High School (Glendale, Wis.) wing Jalen Johnson, who is ranked No. 9 overall in USA Today Sports’ Chosen 25 for 2020.
Baldwin helped lead Phenom to the finals of the Nike Peach Jam 16U division and win the AAU Super Showcase, despite playing up in the 17U division.
“The level of intensity that I come out with every day changed since I was named No. 1 in the class,” Baldwin said. “That’s not to say I took basketball for granted before, it’s just me knowing that with that comes a big bull’s-eye. I’m still getting used to it all.”
That hasn’t stopped colleges from taking notice; Baldwin is already being pursued by everyone from Duke to Wake Forest to Wisconsin.
“And, obviously, my dad,” Baldwin said with a laugh. “He may get a visit or two. It’s all new to me and I’m settling in to everything now, but I’m excited about the process of it all. Being No. 1 is the best scenario because it forces you to raise your level of play every time you step on the floor. You can’t ever get comfortable because people are looking to take that spot from you. I want to keep my spot.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY