After being the most productive member of Iowa's seven-member freshman class last season, Nicholas Baer is now a scholarship player for the Hawkeyes.
The school announced Thursday that the former walk-on has earned a scholarship after a season in which he was an important bench contributor.
"When we invited Nicholas to walk-on two years ago, I had a strong suspicion that this day would come," Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said in the announcement. "I didn't give him a scholarship, he earned one, and that's the greatest compliment that you can give to him. He just wanted a chance and felt like he would take it from there, and he did.
"He really worked hard his redshirt year to figure out what he needed to do to be successful at this level. Nicholas was a terrific player for us in a lot of different ways this past season. He impacts the game with his energy, basketball instincts, shooting, rebounding, defense, and he doesn't make mistakes. He's everything you want on the floor, especially with the way we play. I'm excited about having him in our program for the next three years."
Baer's averages of 4.8 points per game and 2.6 rebounds per game might not jump off the stat sheet, but he was one of just six players on the team to appear in all 33 games (four of the other five were seniors), he ranked seventh on the team in minutes per game (five of the six players ahead of him were starters) and he ranked second on the team with 19 blocks.
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Baer scored in double figures five times this season, including an 11-point performance against then-No. 1 Michigan State in the Big Ten opener and a 15-point effort in Iowa's final game of the season, an NCAA tournament loss to eventual national champion Villanova.
"I am so thankful that coach McCaffery gave me the opportunity to walk-on. He gave me a jersey, gave me a chance to prove myself," Baer said in the announcement. "It has always been a goal of mine to achieve a scholarship and I'm thankful that I have achieved that goal, but more so I'm thankful for all of my teammates who have pushed me to make me a better player and the support I've received from Hawkeye fans."
Baer figures to have an expanded role next season. Four of Iowa's five starters were seniors this season and are moving on from their college careers, and junior starter Peter Jok is testing the NBA Draft process, though his return to Iowa City is certainly still possible. Regardless, it will be a different-looking group of Hawkeyes in 2016-17.