The WIAA State Basketball tournament is underway in Wisconsin and many high school teams are hopeful for the chance to lift the trophy when all said and done. One of those teams is #1 seed Sussex Hamilton High School. Leading the way for that team is 6’8” small forward Patrick Baldwin Jr. Upon entering his Sophomore year of high school this past fall, Baldwin had been garnering attention from some of the premier basketball schools in the nation including Duke, Wisconsin, Marquette, UCLA, and many more. ESPN ranks Baldwin as the top recruit of the 2021 high school class.
From a young age, Baldwin has been a basketball player. “My dad just gave me the ball and just said dribble and [I] just went with it”, Baldwin said about how he first started as a young boy. He started playing organized basketball around the age of 6 and has never stopped since then. Throughout the years he noticed he was one of the better players on the court, but when asked when he really started to notice just how good he really was compared to all the other players in the nation, it was quite recent.
“…probably around this time (February) last year. It’s been something that I always kind of knew that I had a talent for basketball but when it became known [to me] it was about this time (February) last year.”
Some may recognize the name as being the head coach for the UW-Milwaukee men’s basketball team. Pat Baldwin is the father of Pat Baldwin Jr. His dad used to be an assistant at UW-Green Bay, Loyola IL, and most notably Northwestern before taking the head coach position at UW-Milwaukee. Baldwin Jr. has experienced higher level basketball his whole life and has learned more than the average kid growing up would typically learn by being with his dad along the way.
“It’s all the things that I get to experience because he’s a coach, and on top of the lessons that he teaches me inside and outside of basketball, being around college programs when I was really young and now around UWM has really helped me along the way.”
Baldwin Jr. has gained much attention for his ability to score. He has a smooth shot and for a big player, he can shoot from beyond the arc with efficiency. This year he has averaged 6.3 threes per game and has shot 38% from long range throughout the season. Overall this season he is shooting 50% from the field and 85% from the free throw line. He is averaging 18.6 points per game, 7.7 rebounds per game, and 3 assists per game. “One of my biggest strengths is scoring and shot making. The ability to shoot over defenders makes mismatch nightmares”, Baldwin said when asked what he feels his greatest strength is. Over the course of the season, Baldwin averages about one block and just over a steal per game, but says that is one area of his game he hopes to work more on to improve. “I’ve worked with my coaches especially this year. I’ve been trying to get stronger and trusting the lower body and getting lower has really helped me out defensively.” He believes that by working with the strength program and adding more muscle he will improve on defense.
While he is just in his Sophomore season and getting noticed by so many colleges, he remains focused on the job at hand. “My mindset is just to stay in the moment. I just want to enjoy everything that life has for you today and not to worry about the future.”
— Patrick Baldwin Jr. (@_pbaldwin23) August 2, 2018
As time goes on, the anticipation of what school Baldwin chooses to go to will continue to grow. “When the time comes it will just be a decision based off what I see fit and where I feel like the family environment is at wherever that may be.” As he mentioned, he is focusing on staying in the moment and enjoy his time right now.
Baldwin continues to look up to his parents as they are his inspiration to play the best basketball he can.
“Basketball just makes both of them smile. If I keep playing basketball and they keep smiling, I see no reason I shouldn’t love the game.” His connection to his parents is very strong and they have taught him a lot both on and off the court. When it comes to athletics, both of his parents competed in college. His dad was a guard for Northwestern while his mom played volleyball at Northwestern. In fact, Baldwin said that if he wasn’t playing basketball, his mom would probably have made him play volleyball.
Today Baldwin is focused on the playoffs and helping the team achieve a championship run that they came just shy of last season by losing in the semi-finals by one point. “Just like last year, it’s a great group of guys. We have great chemistry. We definitely have a lot of pieces even though we lost some from last season we definitely improved this year building upon what we accomplished last year and I think we are just motivated.” Sussex Hamilton finished the season at 21-4 and is the 4th ranked team in the state according to MaxPreps. They will be taking on Sheboygan South on Friday in Sussex at 7 PM.
8 Fun Facts About Pat Baldwin Jr.
Pregame Jams: Offset and Drake
Favorite postgame meal: Pasta (specifically Olive Garden or Zupas)
Favorite NBA Player: Jayson Tatum
Hobbies other than basketball: Sketching/drawing
Favorite basketball memory: Last season’s basketball tournament and also winning the AAU National championship in Florida last summer.
Favorite movie: Home Alone (filmed in the neighborhood he used to live in)
Water fountain or bubbler: Water fountain. “When I came here the first day somebody asked where the bubbler was and I had no idea what that was. When I saw what it was she went to I realized it was just a water fountain.”
Favorite subject in school: Math