Callum Baker led his team both on and off the court throughout an outstanding 2022–2023 Ontario University Athletics basketball season.
He attacks the key with speed and aggression, sets up strong offensive plays and counter attacks for his teammates, and finishes scoring opportunities with ease.
Callum led the Blues in points and three pointers, with a total of 389 points, 57 of those being three pointers. He finished with a total of 71 rebounds and 64 assists.
After tough losses, Callum encourages his team to stay positive, hold their heads up high, and focus on what’s next, showing true sportsmanship and leadership.
He is an honourable athlete who has worked tirelessly to get where he is today and is constantly looking for ways to improve as a player and a person.
Goal-driven, humble, and passionate, Callum, a powerful point guard for the University of Toronto men’s basketball team, sat down with The Varsity to discuss how his career in basketball began, what factors have led to his success, and who inspires him most.
Callum was born in Toronto. He then moved to Mississauga and finally to Oakville, where he has lived for the past 15 years. Callum is a natural born athlete; however, basketball was not his first passion. He played ice hockey at a very young age and was skating far before he laced up his first pair of basketball shoes.
It wasn’t until the sixth or seventh grade that basketball really started to take over his life.
As Callum’s passion for the game grew, so did his goals. He knew he wanted to gain more exposure and better opportunities to potentially play college basketball one day, which led to his decision to move to the US for high school.
“That decision really came from my family and just the journey that I wanted to go on with basketball and where I wanted it to take me,” Callum said.
“My high school experience kind of took me all over the place.” Callum first attended St. James School which is a boarding school located in western Maryland. He spent his first two years of high school there, where he continued his career in basketball.
In his senior year, Callum transferred to Bishop Walsh School, which is also in Maryland, to complete his last year of high school.
Although leaving his family behind was hard, Callum said that there were many pros to moving to the US for high school. “I learned how to be independent at a young age since I was in a boarding school in ninth grade,” said Callum.
He also said that he learned time management skills, which have helped him succeed as a young athlete balancing a heavy workload at the collegiate level. “Being in a boarding school away from your family, you kind of have to… learn how to rely on yourself a little bit more.”
Throughout his high school experience, Callum explained that staying true to himself and his values is what helped him get to where he is today.
“My experience in university is kind of unique, with [U of T] being the third university that I am at right now.” Over the course of four years, Callum had gone to three different schools, two of which were in the states.
He spent his first two years of university at Fairleigh Dickinson in New Jersey and played in the NCAA division one. Coming out of high school, he was recognized as a Top 10 point guard in the nation by ESPN in grade 10, a most valuable player and a Wash County second team all-star in grade 11, and an Allegheny County first team all-star and a top 12 recruit in the state of Maryland by ESPN in grade 12.
However, he recalls his freshman year of college as a time when he faced the biggest type of adversity he had to overcome in his basketball career.
“I thought I was going to be able to come in and succeed from the first day, but it went the complete opposite way,” Callum said.
Like many freshmen, Callum did not play too much and instead learned a lot from the veteran players around him: “That’s something in my whole career that I hadn’t been used to, so it was hard to adjust to, not being on the floor and not being able to do what I love.”
In his third year, Callum transferred to Flagler College in Florida and played a full year in the NCAA division two.
Callum described this as a learning experience. “Being in two completely different states, and then being in a completely different country as well, it gave me a lot of different views on how I see the world and how I see people.”
Balling with the Blues
After being away from his home and his family for eight years, Callum was ready to make the big transition to Toronto.
On top of the university’s reputation for being one of the best schools in the world, Callum said a big factor in him wanting to come play for the Varsity Blues was that his parents were U of T alumni. Family is very important to Callum and being away from not only his parents, but his little brother Rylan, motivated his decision to move back home.
Returning north of the border! 🇨🇦
Callum Baker has committed to play for the Varsity Blues after spending three seasons in the NCAA!
— U of T Varsity Blues (@Varsity_Blues) May 25, 2022
The Varsity Blues’ Twitter announced that Callum committed to the Blues on May 25, 2022, where his long, successful journey in Toronto would officially take off.
Callum said that the transition to his new team was smooth because he already knew the team pretty well and was really close with the Blues’ head coach, Madhav Trivedi.
“I was able to come to U of T and workout with the guys every summer, so just building that relationship over the years really made the decision to come home a lot easier,” said Callum.
What has led to his success
The saying “hard work pays off” is proven true through Callum. On top of the Blues’ consistent training schedule and daily practices, a day in the life of Callum consists of waking up early in the morning to get shots up with his dad and younger brother before school and coming home after a long day of classes and training to work out again.
Throughout the week, his team also takes part in practices, lifts, individual workouts with the coaches, and watching game film.
“As much basketball as possible that I can get in every day is really what I look for,” he said. “Before I go to sleep, I’ll do stretching and try to take care of my body in the best way possible.”
On top of practice, Callum said that his teammates and coaching staff putting trust into him and placing him in the right positions to excel has played a huge role in his success with the Blues.
“There’s the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) here in Canada, which this summer and next summer, I definitely want to try to play in.”
After Callum graduates, he is going to look into playing professionally in Europe. “I’ve always wanted to play in Greece, Spain, or France.” He said that on top of playing abroad professionally, he would love to travel around Europe and see places that one does not get to see every day.
Callum also aspires to go into law school after playing basketball professionally. “I would like to go into criminal law or corporate law,” he said.
Who inspires him the most?
There are three people that inspire Callum the most in life: his father, Martin Baker, his mother, Charmaine Baker, and his younger brother, Rylan.
“The first person is my dad,” he said. “Just seeing how he’s raised us, my whole family, my brother and I, and everything he does for us basketball wise… It really inspires me to see how hard he works and instills that work hard mentality into myself.”
The second person who inspires him is his mother, who Callum said is the rock and foundation of their family. “Without her, I wouldn’t be able to do really anything that I’ve done today.”
Callum appreciates how supportive his mother has been throughout his basketball career and how she is always there for her family. “She’s the loudest person out there [at every game], and any age from when I was a little kid, even now, she’s always at every game, every practice.”
Lastly, Callum said his younger brother inspires him to be the best person he can be. “I know how much he looks up to me, so I want to be able to set a good example for him and be the type of person that he wants to be when he grows up.”
Looking ahead, Callum is excited to use the off-season to continue training, working hard, and spending time with his family.
Keep up with him on his socials to support him in his goals of playing in the CEBL this summer, as well as another amazing season with the Blues in the fall.