AUBURN – When Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl decided to bring in Chad Baker-Mazara through the transfer portal, he brought in a basketball player capable of becoming a spark plug for the program.

Baker-Mazara was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He previously played for Duquesne and San Diego State before arriving in Auburn.

Baker-Mazara started playing sports at a young age. He played multiple sports other than basketball.

"I did play a little baseball growing up," Baker-Mazara said. "I played a lot of soccer and a little bit of volleyball, I played more volleyball when I came to the U.S. I obviously played basketball, but those (soccer and volleyball) were the sports I played the most."

Baker-Mazara discussed his transition from playing basketball in the Dominican Republic to playing in the United States.

"When I first came to play in high school here it was a little bit easier," Baker-Mazara said. "When it comes to that level, I feel like the kids down there play a little harder and stronger and with a little bit more grit to it. When it comes to college, over here it's (the competition at the college level) way better."

Pearl has developed a reputation as a coach that people love to play for. Baker-Mazara has been no different.

"I can ask him for advice, or if I see something on the court I can actually come up and talk to him," Baker-Mazara said. "He might not do what I'm telling him but at least he'll sit there and listen to what I have to say because he knows it's two different games watching it from the bench and actually being in the game. So I respect him a lot for actually trying to see our perspective of the game."

Pearl's staff has been another factor that has made Baker-Mazara's Auburn experience a positive one.

"They really are impactful," Baker-Mazara said. "Any given day you can talk to them. They're like BP (Bruce Pearl), if you have something that you see you can talk to them. They are the ones giving you little details throughout the game and They are really on top of little things and I've never had assistant coaches be like that. When BP says this is his best staff, he's not lying about it."

Baker-Mazara mentioned how welcoming the Auburn community has been since his arrival.

"The love and support the community has shown us," Baker-Mazara said on one of the best parts of playing for Auburn. "This is the craziest fan base I've ever played for. The way that these people come and show us love and support is like no other for real. That's my number one thing right there."

One of Baker-Mazara's high school coaches unexpectedly passed away right before Auburn's road game against Georgia in February. He scored a season-high 25 points to lead Auburn to victory. He talked about his thought process going into that game.

"I was extremely pissed off," Baker-Mazara said. "I was just so mad and then another little incident happened before. I'm always joking around and stuff like that, that day I was quiet and locked in, no jokes. I just went into a little mode and it ended up going my way."

Multiple Auburn players as well as Pearl have talked about how close this team is and how much of a difference that makes. Baker-Mazara talked about how important this team's chemistry is.

"It's really impactful," Baker-Mazara said. "If you don't have a great team chemistry off the floor, it's going to be harder to get that on the floor. When I first got here over the summer we would have breakfast together literally every day as a team. I feel like that helped us build a bond. That was really big for me because now we're all like brothers and we can depend on each other."

"If you love Auburn, it will love you back" is a popular saying on the Plains, and that has been the case for Baker-Mazara.

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