Chad-Baker Mazara, Auburn Tigers
The Dominican moved to the United States when he was just 17 years old; he is now an SEC Basketball Tournament champion and will play in his second NCAA Tournament Via Auburn Athletics

SEATTLE - From the Caribbean to the Pacific and from the Pacific to the Loveliest Village On The Plains, the road taken by Chad Baker-Mazara has been both challenging and unique. Born in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, he moved to the United States in 2017 as a 17-year-old to live with his grandfather and chase his dream of becoming a basketball player.

Baker-Mazara has had to fight for it, as adapting to life in the U.S. wasn't an easy task for a 17-year-old. "When I first moved here I couldn't really speak the language, so the barrier was there," he said. "Getting used to basically a new life after leaving everything behind, my family and friends...but I would do it 20 more times if I have to."

"Where I come from I didn't have much but at the same time I wasn't lacking anything. I knew how hard my parents worked to give me everything I needed. I feel like I have a chip over my shoulder,"
Chad Baker-Mazara

With the Dominican Republic lacking the opportunities that elite-level athletes need, Baker-Mazara emigrated to craft his own path. "It's very different out there. We have a league but it's not really like what high school basketball is here," he said in an interview with The Latin Times. "There aren't that many resources to help prepare kids get to the next level so it was a lot more challenging. Basketball is played a little different since we play with FIBA rules. I had to come here and get adjusted to the game," he added.

His sacrifices and the hard work have paid off so far. Stops at a prep school in Ohio and a successful freshman year at Duquesne University opened the doors for the Dominican to compete at a higher level. In his one season at San Diego State University, Baker-Mazara helped the Aztecs to an NCAA Tournament appearance, being named Sixth Man of the Year in the Mountain West Conference in 2021-22.

Chad-Baker Mazara, Auburn Tigers
Chad Baker-Mazara was named 6th Man of the Year in the Mountain West Conference with San Diego State in 2021-22 Via @ChadBaker2700 on X/Twitter

After a one-year stop at Northwest Florida State College, an opportunity came for Baker-Mazara to return to D-I basketball with the Auburn Tigers, one of college basketball's best programs during recent years. Baker-Mazara has not disappointed in his first season at a Power 5 conference. He is averaging 10.3 PPG and 3.8 RPG in a team that finished the regular season with a record of 24-7. Just this weekend, Auburn added a SEC Basketball Tournament championship ring, the third in program history, ahead of this year's NCAA Tournament.

Chad Baker-Mazara dunk vs Ole Miss

In conference play, the Dominican managed to score double-digit points in 12 of his team's 17 games. Baker-Mazara is also averaging career-highs in field goal percentage (45%) and in 3-point shooting (41.6%). A formidable athlete, the energy and passion in which Baker-Mazara plays the game has a lot to do with his background. "Being Hispanic helps us a lot by knowing how hard it is to get to where you want to be," he said. "I feel like us Hispanics are very proud and when I am out there in the court, I try to make sure no one scores on me or I try to score on somebody," Baker-Mazara said.

Hitting the ground running at Auburn wouldn't have been possible without the help of his teammates and coaches. The Dominican forward mentioned how important it is for him to feel at home. "Bruce Pearl (Auburn's head coach), he put up a play in Spanish just for me. They try to help me as much as they can."

Chad Baker-Mazara is a bucket from outside of the arc; he has a career average of 41% from 3-point range

But even though the successes haven't been short, there are days for Baker-Mazara where he would like to be close to his loved ones. "There are hard days when you really miss home, days when you might just need a hug from your mother," he said. "There is a big mental battle because you go through a lot of yelling, cussing and sometimes you just want to get home and forget about all of it. My family plays a big role of why I am here and they are the reason why I am here to begin with. I want to try giving them a better life," he added.

Chad-Baker Mazara, Auburn Tigers
"My next chapter after this I do want to represent my country in the big leagues. That would be a dream come true wearing my country's jersey over my chest" Via Auburn Athletics

In the quest to do so, Chad Baker-Mazara has excelled at every challenge thrown at him. Aware of the hurdles, he never gave up, even when he wasn't getting the opportunities. He carved his own path and is something he encourages young players to follow. "If I could send a message to my younger self and I guess other kids out there is to not worry about not getting noticed. Walk your own path."

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