Every player who steps on a court has a dream of having a long and successful career. Not every player’s journey to their dream is similar. Every athlete will carve out their own path to their dream and face different experiences and challenges throughout their career. It’s taken Devon Baulkman a little while to get going, but he’s now on the right track.
Baulkman came from Bainbridge, Ga, a small city about three and half hours south of Atlanta. He started out his collegiate career at Gulf Coast State College, a junior college in Panama City, Fl. He missed a season in junior college and questioned if he was going to be the same player he was before the injury. He then posted numbers of 15.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 steals per game in his second collegiate season in junior college before transferring to Tennessee.
“I was out the whole regular season and felt like I wasn’t going to come back and be the same type of player I was,” Baulkman told KnicksJournal.com. “Am I going be strong enough? Am I going to be physical enough? There were times I wanted to quit, but I pushed.”
“My family is pushing me and wants to see me be successful. Being the only guy from my city and really getting the edge and showing the kids in my community that there’s more out there is what pushes me to go even harder and never give up until I can retire,” Baulkman continued.
Despite spending just two seasons at Tennessee, Baulkman played for two different coaches and the experience built up his character as the program struggled, amassing a 31-35 record.
“There were just a lot of bumps and bruises,” he stated. “It was just a learning lesson for me as I tried to pick up on different things from different coaches. It was a good experience for me. I became wiser. I learned how to pick up on the small things and fix bad habits.”
Baulkman’s strong work ethic has been on display since his sophomore year of college. He worked his way from a junior college to playing in Germany and made the Westchester Knicks’ roster through a team tryout this past fall. His path to realizing his dream may have been different than others, but he has always remained positive through the good and bad times.
“A lot of players that have different visions and different dreams,” the Westchester guard said. “I come from a small city, but it just made me push more and want to prove people wrong. There were bad times where I wanted to give up. I just kept my head high and stayed in the gym and stayed positive.”
Baulkman didn’t make his debut during Westchester’s first road trip of the season. A hip injury caused him to miss more than a quarter of the regular season. Despite missing a portion of the season, Baulkman managed to stay sharp and mentally prepared for when he made his debut against the Santa Cruz Warriors.
“I had to make sure I knew how to play, ease in, and make sure just not to think about my injury,” Baulkman said. “The main thing is being confident about yourself, knowing what you can give, and providing what a team needs. Also, just helping the players out and the coaches on what they need you to do, and staying high leveled.”
Since making his debut, Baulkman has brought a special energy off the bench, giving the Knicks another defensive minded player who takes pride on that side of the ball. His mindset is having a defensive presence, while believing everything else will fall in place. Through 18 appearances, Baulkman has tallied a season-high 9 points on two occasions and continues to chip away at becoming a key cog in Westchester’s rotation.
Many players who stepped foot on a G League court have used the league as a platform to cultivate other opportunities and progress to that next level. Baulkman is utilizing his big break with the Westchester Knicks, which is something he hopes that catapults him to a successful career.