Nicholas Baer plays with passion. He never stops. Fans compare him to the late Chris Street, one of the most popular Hawkeye players of all-time, for good reason. He wants to play like Chris.

Baer, a redshirt sophomore on the Iowa men's basketball team, was named Sixth Man of the Year by the Big Ten Monday night. He becomes the third Iowa player to win the award, following Doug Thomas in 2006 and Gabriel Olaseni in 2015.

What he said on his Instagram account after learning of the honor, is the perfect message for young boys and girls striving to be great:

"To all aspiring basketball players: You do not have to start to make an impact on the game!! Find your role and be a star in your role.
Thank you to the coaches who voted for me, and my teammates past and present who have pushed me along the way. B1G week ahead 👆 #GoHawks"

This young man has come a long way with the Hawkeye program in a short time. Two years ago, he came to Iowa City from Bettendorf High as a walk-on, and redshirted. Last season, he averaged 4.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. The stats weren't glaringly good but you could tell Nicholas Baer was special.

This year, with a scholarship in tow, Baer's game went to a new level. He averaged more than seven-and-a-half points per game and six rebounds per contest, according to ESPN. He was the only Division One player in America who scored more than 225 points, blocked over 35 shots, had more than 45 steals, and made over 40 3-pointers. Only one other Big Ten player has done that in the last two decades... Draymond Green of Michigan State in 2012. He's now in his fifth NBA season with the Golden State Warriors.

Here's what Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery says about Baer:

“Nicholas gives you everything he has in every practice and every game. He has a tremendous work ethic that is displayed in the stat sheet every game. When Nicholas comes into the game he brings energy, enthusiasm, leadership, and versatility. I am incredibly proud of Nicholas and this achievement and what he means to this team and this program.”

Nicholas Baer makes things happen when he's on the court. Not only that, it's the way he plays. You always feel like Nicholas is giving 110% all the time. He never gives up on a play. The comparisons to Chris Street are easy to make, and see. Earlier this season, he posted a photograph of the plaque honoring Street inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena with this message:

"Thank you. Thank you for setting the standard for how I play at Iowa. Thank you for being a reminder of how to play with Iowa pride when wearing the Hawkeye uniform. Your spirit lives on in this Iowa program. Happy 45th birthday to this Hawkeye legend. #Forever40"

A great player and a tremendous young man. I'm glad Nicholas Baer is an Iowa Hawkeye and I'm thrilled we'll have two more seasons to watch him play in the black and gold.

[via ESPN, Hawkeye Sports, and U of I Sports Information]

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