|School||Class||DOB (age)||POS||Ht (Listed)||Ht (w/out shoes)||Wt (lbs)||Wingspan||Standing Reach||Hometown|
|Houston||Fr||9/4/03 (19)||PF/SF||6′ 8″||6′ 6.5″||248.6||7′ 2.5″||8′ 8.5″||New Freedom, PA|
One of the most anticipated events in college basketball was Jarace Walker’s freshman season with the Houston Cougars. As one of the country’s top high school recruits the 6-foot-8 forward brought a dynamic skill set and a reputation as a physical force on the floor. Many fans and pundits were eager to see how he would perform at the collegiate level and if he would be able to live up to the expectations placed upon him.
Fast forward to the end of Jarace Walker’s first season at the University of Houston, and most would agree that his freshman year was a success.The versatile combo forward was instrumental in advancing the Cougars past the NCAA tournament’s second round while displaying a remarkable skill set and potential. But, before we dive deeper into how he performed at the collegiate level, let’s take a look back at Walker’s journey to Houston.
Jarace Walker’s Journey to Houston (Early Life and High School Career)
Walker began playing basketball at the age of six, although he initially thought he was terrible at the sport. Fortunately, one of his elder sisters who played basketball encouraged him to keep trying. Walker would eventually develop a love for the game.
By middle school, it was evident that he had the potential to be a standout player. Walker competed on the ninth grade squad at Susquehannock High School in Pennsylvania while a student at Southern Middle School in the eighth grade.
For his first year of high school, the standout who was born in Baltimore and raised in Pennsylvania transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, one of the finest basketball programs in the nation. It was here that he started to catch the eye of recruiters and scouts. Walker played a crucial role off the bench for IMG’s national championship-winning squad in his first season, averaging 7 points and 2.5 assists per game.
In a season that was cut short by the coronavirus Walker played a very different role during his sophomore year. One that called upon him to perform point guard like duties in which he was a facilitator for teammates and expected to create shots for his self.
Injuries plagued Walker for most of his junior year. But in his senior year, he made a remarkable comeback, with per games averages of 16.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 4 assists.He was also named a McDonald’s All-American.
Recruitment and College Choice
Walker became a fan favorite and one of the most highly sought-after recruits in the nation thanks to his outstanding athleticism and highlight-reel dunks. He received interest from some of the top college basketball schools, including Alabama, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame, Michigan, North Carolina, LSU, and others. He was ranked as the No. 19 prospect in the Class of 2022 by ESPN 100.
He ultimately made the decision to sign with the Houston Cougars, a team that was coming off a tremendous season in which they made it to the Final Four. The Cougars wanted to build on that achievement and considered Walker as a crucial component in their quest for yet another strong tournament performance. Walker announced his commitment to play basketball for the University of Houston in November 2021.
In an exclusive interview with U Sports Media Group Walker cited the coaching staff, the program’s family type vibe and the chance to improve on and off the basketball court as reasons for his decision. He stated “It really just felt like home and I felt like it was what I really needed to take my game to the next level. Cause I knew the coaching staff really cared about me more than just basketball honestly…”
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Early Collegiate Success
The Cougars felt Jarace Walker’s impact right away. Playing in 36 games, starting 35 of them, he averaged 11.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game. In addition to being named to the American Athletic Conference All-Rookie team, Walker was awarded the conference’s Freshman of the Year honors.
Throughout the season, Walker’s abilities were on full display while showcasing his versatility on the court by scoring from all areas of the floor, grabbing offensive rebounds, and feeding the ball to his teammates.He also displayed his defensive potential by disrupting opposing offenses with his length, athleticism and quickness.
Throughout the season, Walker continued to get better heading into conference play and March Madness. He was essential to Houston’s 2023 NCAA Tournament run. Houston made it past the first and second rounds before losing to the Miami Hurricanes in the Sweet 16.
NCAA Season Stats Per Game
What you will find on a Jarace Walker NBA Draft Scouting Report
A sturdily built and athletically gifted 2023 NBA Draft prospect. During his first collegiate season Walker flashed tons of potential as a forwardfor the Houston Cougars. This highly touted freshman’s impact was felt through his ability to contribute to the game by defending at a high level, providing a physical presence, efficient offense and grabbing offensive boards.
But, perhaps the most impressive aspects of his season was the display of his high basketball IQ and understanding of the game. Even though he was a freshman, Walker played with the poise and the confidence of a player much older, making smart decision on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
Walker’s biggest impact is felt on the defensive side of the ball
Toughness, physicality and athleticism are just a few of the surface reasons Walker is labeled as a prospect with tremendous potential on the defensive end. A willing attitude and eagerness to defend combined with his upside enables him to cover a lot of ground as an on ball or help defender, when closing out, contesting shots and hustling back on defense.
His defensive impact not only passes the eye test but his efforts show up on the stat sheet as well. And while Walker by no means is classified as a shot blocker he denies shots to the tune of one plus per game. Plus his hands are quick for poking balls loose as he tallies at least one steal per game. Especially when applying pressure as a help or trap defender.
Walker also does an excellent job of capitalizing on distractions. He skillfully anticipates and pounces on opportunities to poke balls loose from his man the moment they turn their head to acknowledge an arriving double team.
The type of defender that causes chaos, disruption and forces turnovers
Walker is the type of defender that causes chaos and forces turnovers as a help or trap defender. He’s alert, agile and has the ability to react quickly when helping off his man to disrupt penetration, contest and block shots around the basket. Notably in situations while he’s defending and fighting for position in paint. Walker also shows and holds the line long enough to allow his teammates time to recover through screens.
You can also expect hustle plays in a disruptive fashion as Walker often gets back on defense to poke balls loose, recover possessions and to contest or blocks shots in transition.
Walker is an engaging on ball defender
He slides his feet well, has energy and bodies up with physicality. But he can also be over eager at guessing his man’s next move ie biting on shot fakes, and trying to beat ball handlers to spots. Overall he does a good job of staying with his man while defending against penetration and contesting jump shots.
His offense is efficient but yet to be consistent
At this stage of his career Walker’s overall offensive production has yet proven to be consistent. But when he produces it’s often done so in an efficient manner. He works the offensive glass, finishes plays around the basket, puts the ball on the floor well for his size, has the ability to create his own shot on offense. Walker is also more than capable of knocking down the jump-shot and free throws but these two areas remain areas of improvement.
Works the offensive glass but has room to improve on the defensive boards
Walker works hard, is physical and active on the offensive boards. As a result he often reaps the rewards of crashing the glass by producing the opportunities to clean up missed shots with put-backs and extra possessions.
On the defensive glass Walker has room for growth. He’s able to box out, hold inside position and reel in shots off the rim for the most part. But you want to see him grab more defensive rebounds. Plus you will see youthful moments of struggle to keep his man off the glass on box outs.
Walker is a legit threat from close range
Walker finishes plays around the basket and can do so with a soft touch or with authority. Whether he’s finishing a drop or lob pass with an athletic two handed flush or with jump hooks from the post Walker is a legit threat from close range. Not only is Walker a legit threat to finish plays around the basket he’s able to get there on his own.
He puts the ball on the floor well for his size
Walker has decent ball control for a player his size. Using hesitations, behind-the-back dribbles, crossovers, between the legs dribbles and in-and-out moves, he effectively changes speed and direction. Because of his ability to put the ball on the floor he’s able to effectively create offense for self.
The ability to create his own shot
Off the dribble Walker can get into the paint and favors attacking into a back down dribble at the elbow which is often precedes and is the set up for his step-throughs. When his step-through attempts are cutoff he’s able to smoothly counter with fadeaway jumpers.
Walker’s ability to create clean looks and shoot of the dribble is legit. But fade aways aren’t the only type of elevated shots that Walker can knock down.
More than capable of knocking down a jump shot
Whether it’s a pick & pop, catch & shoot with feet set or shooting off the dribble Walker is more than capable of knocking down a jump shot. However he doesn’t have the ability to knock down the long range jumper with efficiency at this stage of career. He’s more effective from midrange but he does have the potential to become a stretch the defense shooter at the next level.
Unselfish player and Under rated passer
An under rated passer with playmaking ability. Drive and dump, drive and kick ability to find shooters (although rigid at times) especially when attacking against closeout defenders. He’s also capable of connecting with shooters when attacking around screens in pick & pop situations.
What role is Walker best suited for in the NBA?
Walker is a combo forward role player. One who’s at his best when he’s physical. At a young age he already possesses an NBA body and is equipped to handle the physical demands of the NBA.
At this stage of Walker’s career he’s most suited for the role of a small ball power forward at the next level. He also possesses the potential to develop into a well rounded small forward or a stretch four.
But before he can successfully and efficiently perform as a well rounded small forward or a stretch four he must first develop the ability to knock down the three ball efficiently. In the early stages of his career expect him to be relied upon to effectively defend, work the offensive glass, knock down the midrange jumper and finish plays around the basket while he continues to further develop his offensive game.
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Jarace Walker’s NBA Draft Projection: The Future is Bright
Despite the disappointing end to the Houston Cougar’s 2023 NCAA Tournament run as a number 1 seed, Walker established himself as one of the best young players in the nation after an impressive first season. Walker’s future seems very promising with three more years of eligibility remaining.
He has already proven that he has what it takes to play at the highest level of collegiate basketball, and he will certainly continue to improve while making a name for himself in the sport. Unfortunately for the NCAA that won’t be done at the college basketball level. Walker is headed to the NBA and will more than likely become a 2023 NBA Draft lottery pick. He’s currently projected to be selected within the 5-10 range.
Jarace Walker has been compared the likes of NBA Stars such as Paul Millsap, Julius Randle, Tari Eason, Jerami Grant, Scottie Barnes, Blake Griffin and Zion Williamson to name a few.
The Latest Jarace Walker News
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