Walk the Walk
Chris Walker’s lively game can more than back up his mouth.
Understand, we would’ve called Chris Walker if he hadn’t called us first.
At 6-10 and a shade over 215, Walker has the requisite size for a top high school prospect. Pair those dimensions with athleticism and explosiveness equal to anyone in his class, and it’s obvious why we would’ve reached out to set up an interview. But Walker beat us to it. That’s just his style—you simply won’t find another player who combines so much talent with such a knack for self-promotion.
“People think I’m cocky,” he says, “but I’m just very confident. I’ve been putting in work since Day One, and it’s really starting to pay off now.”
A consensus top-10 national ranking, and being the focus of a recruiting war that included a slew of heavyweight programs competing for his attention, seems to justify that confidence. But that doesn’t mean he’s trying to do it alone. In July, Walker announced he was going to be a Florida Gator, ensuring the Holmes County (FL) High star would keep his talents in-state. The chance to stay close to home and play for Billy Donovan were obvious draws, but so was the chance to team with his Florida Elite AAU running mate (and fellow top-10 prospect), point guard Kasey Hill. After a terrific run with Hill on the summer camp and tournament circuit, Walker says, “I realized me and him at Florida could be like Blake and CP or LeBron and DWade.”
Walker’s size, athleticism and fierce finishing certainly bring Blake Griffin to mind, but the 17-year-old chooses to emulate that other physical specimen—the one who finally copped a ring back in June. “This is gonna sound crazy, but I feel like if I have the right trainer and put on a little weight, I can be like LeBron,” Walker says. “LeBron is just the truth, man. He’s got a great basketball IQ, he’s athletic, strong, he can shoot, pass, rebound, block shots, guard any position. At the end of the day, I just want to be as complete a player as I can. That’s my goal.”
Big as he talks, Walker knows he’s far from the finished product, citing his strength, footwork and ballhandling as skills he needs to sharpen. “I ain’t there yet,” he says. “I ain’t near there yet.” Those deficiencies well in mind, Walker’s focused on working toward a freshman year strong enough to justify a place in the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery. Where many of his peers tend to downplay the one-and-done dream while still in high school, Walker is honest about his plan. “My goal for freshman year is to average like 15 and 8, with 3 or 4 blocks, 3 or 4 assists,” he says. “Hopefully, with that, I can be a Lottery pick.”
In the meantime, he’s focused on his senior season at Holmes County, where he says he’s happy to stay after toying with the idea of transferring to a prep power. Such a move might have meant more exposure, but in that, Walker hardly needs help. After our interview, he texted us to ask if we would publish his Twitter handle, “so I can get more followers!” It’s not normally our style, but sure, in this case we can give a plug to @cwalkertime23, aka “Chris Skywalker.” And of course, he’s on Facebook, Instagram and Kik, too. Might as well get on this dude’s bandwagon now, before it gets too crowded. Although we’ve got a feeling he’ll always be happy to make room for more fans.