Warren Baker: High-scoring and studious Mountaineer stayed close
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Warren Baker was partially hidden away in White Sulphur Springs when he was a sophomore at Greenbrier East High School.
The Cavaliers had not been in the same basketball universe with Logan, Beckley Woodrow Wilson, Wheeling Park, Huntington or even small-school Williamson.
The days and seasons with mostly-anonymous teams and little recognition, ended when the six-foot-seven Baker stepped onto the roster at Greenbrier East.
As a sophomore, Baker was selected to the big-school all-state team. The same thing happened following his junior season.
Then as a senior, Baker and company produced a 25-1 record, reached the state tournament and finalized the campaign with Baker, being selected as the Bill Evans Award recipient as the state’s best player. Baker had scored 91 points and claimed 47 rebounds in three games at the state tournament.
Somewhere along the line Baker was dubbed “Wonderful Warren” by a sportswriter.
Baker was quoted as saying, “I’m a West Virginia guy,” and he proved that by joining coach Sonny Moran’s WVU Mountaineers after his high school graduation.
As a freshman at WVU, he averaged 16.6 points a game. Moran’s team was not a rip-roaring success. As a sophomore, Baker pushed his scoring average to 17.7, all the while leading the Mountaineers for the second-straight year in rebounding.
Moran was fired after that mediocre season. In came former West Virginia player Joedy Gardner to coach.
In his first year with Gardner, Baker averaged 16.4 points a game.
On that first Gardner-coached team, Baker played with Bob Huggins.
Baker’s senior season was somewhat sketchy, and his point totals and rebounds were down as the Mountaineers again failed to remind anybody of the Fred Schaus squads or early teams of George King.
When he graduated in 1977, Baker and legendary Jerry West were the only West Virginia players to leave with at least 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds.
A bachelor’s degree in history and physical education was later followed by a master’s degree in counseling and guidance.
In the work-a-day world, he would spend seven years as a counselor at Westover Jr. High, and then there was a two-year stint as an assistant basketball coach at West Virginia Wesleyan in Buckhannon. He also taught physical education at West Virginia Wesleyan.
Baker went on to Fairmont State where he taught for 25 years. From 1991-1996, he was the head basketball coach at North Marion High School.
Staying close to basketball, he worked as an analyst at WAJR radio for 12 years. Mountaineer Sports Network also employed him as an analyst for seven years and he worked for a time for ROOF Sports in Pittsburgh.
Baker is in the West Virginia University Hall of Fame.
Even when West Virginia presented a struggling basketball team, Baker stayed in the state for his collegiate career.
When he graduated from WVU, he also remained in the state and used his degrees in the public school system and at the college level.
Warren Baker was never hidden after rattling off scoring and rebounding records in White Sulphur Springs at Greenbrier East High School.