After playing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for his first three years of university and returning to his hometown as a Varsity Blues athlete, Callum Baker has progressed to the next level in his career as a professional athlete in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) with the Brampton Honey Badgers. Baker sat down with The Varsity to discuss his career with the CEBL so far. 

A 6-foot-2 guard from Oakville, Ontario, Baker is a guard on the Varsity Blues men’s basketball team this year and the newest addition to the Honey Badgers roster. Ambitious both on and off the court, Baker’s dedication to basketball has put him on the road to success. 

Toward the end of the 2022–2023 Varsity Blues season, Honey Badgers’ general manager Jermaine Anderson reached out to Blues head coach Madhav Trivedi, expressing interest in drafting Baker to the Honey Badgers. “I had a good conversation with Jermaine Anderson, and they told me they’d like to select me with their 11th pick in the draft. So that was big for me,” said Baker.

Baker was drafted 11th by the Honey Badgers. NIEL PATEL/THEVARSITY

Honey Badgers season

After an impactful season with the Blues and being drafted to Brampton, Baker headed into training with the Honey Badgers. Training camp began at Humber College toward the end of May to establish the team’s chemistry both on and off the court, with the Badgers practicing one or two times a day in preparation for their first game of the season just a few weeks later. During the regular CEBL season over the summer, practice occurred about five to six times a week. 

For Baker though, in the summer, training didn’t stop with the Honey Badgers. A typical day for him consisted of waking up early in the morning and getting in a shooting workout with his dad and brother at around 7:00 am. Honey Badgers practice was in the late morning or early afternoon, then he stayed around in the gym for extra practice, after some rest in between. In addition to practices, the Honey Badgers played once or twice a week, making for a busy schedule. 

Baker learned a lot while playing in Brampton. NIEL PATEL/THEVARSITY

All of it was a big learning opportunity for Baker. “Getting the opportunity to learn from professionals every single day and compete against them, that really helped my game grow and my confidence just grew a lot,” Baker said. His head coach and one of the assistant coaches with the Honey Badgers were also coaching in the NBA, providing some great lessons and experience for the young basketball star. 

With the Blues, Baker is currently averaging 23.3 points per game — the second-best average in Ontario University Athletics statistics. 

Being exposed to different approaches to the game has elevated his training early in his professional career. Baker had a successful CEBL debut over the summer, averaging 3.1 points, 1.7 assists, and 13.6 minutes across 15 games for the Badgers. 

“The most challenging thing is making a name for yourself,” Baker explained. “Obviously, you’re playing with guys that have been playing professional basketball for over ten years in some cases, [that’s] longer than I’ve been playing in university.” While Baker’s playing time on the Badgers may not match his minutes with the Blues yet — where he currently averages 38.5 minutes per game this season — he remains focused and works hard to continue to develop his skills. 

Championing growth

Baker’s big break with the Honey Badgers was during a playoff game against the Scarborough Shooting Stars. Baker was named the player of the game, as he had career-high numbers across the board with 16 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. “It was [also] just huge having my U of T teammates, they were all there supporting… [and] that meant a lot to me just seeing them there and having that support,” Baker said. “It was a really big game for myself and my confidence.” 

Baker is surrounded by support, from his family and friends to his teammates and coaches. After moving from the NCAA, many of his teammates on the Blues helped him navigate his transition to U of T and continue to cheer him on as he plays in Brampton. 

Furthermore, after being apart from his family for nearly eight years, Baker is happy to be back in the GTA and playing locally in front of friends and family. “Coming home last year, and this past summer with the Honey Badgers, it just means everything to see them in the stands before the game and look at my dad, my mom, and my brother,” Baker said. “[It] brings the biggest smile to me before the game. It means the world to me that they get to see me play.”

The future is bright for Baker. NIEL PATEL/THEVARSITY

Focused, humble, and a true team player, Baker’s goals extend far beyond basketball. After his time with the Honey Badgers, he hopes to play professionally in Europe — though the CEBL is something he wants to continue to play in. “The [CEBL] season is only in the summer, so [the season] would most likely end or [be] just about to end before a season would start in Europe,” Baker added. 

There isn’t a set timeline for playing professionally, however. Once Baker decides to hang up his basketball shoes, he hopes to attend law school. In the off-season, he hopes to make time to prepare for the LSATs and achieve his goal of working in corporate or criminal law. 

In the meantime, you can support Baker and Varsity Blues basketball by attending games throughout the season, or by following Baker on his social media and attending the Brampton Honey Badgers’ games at the CAA Centre.