Jarace Walker established himself as a tremendous defender at Houston and the projected lottery pick will be looking to showcase that ability from the moment he arrives in the NBA.
Walker was named the American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year this past season after averaging 11.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.3 blocks and one steal. He was a unanimous selection to the All-Freshman team.
The 6-foot-8 Walker measured in with a 7-foot, 2 1/2-inch wingspan at the combine and projects to be a player that can wreak havoc in the passing lanes and on-ball defense with his length.
He believes that will enable him to make an impact at the next level.
“I’ve played against pros and have practiced against pros so I feel like my effort (will translate immediately),” Walker said Wednesday after working out with the Indiana Pacers, via Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. “I feel like that is the most important thing on defense so just being ready to go, ready to play and continue to learn at the highest level. I feel like that’s the one thing I can showcase off the rip.”
Walker ranked fifth in the country in defensive rating (87.1), sixth in defensive win shares (2.8) and second in the conference in block percentage (6.3). As a result, he is viewed as perhaps the top defender in this year’s draft class.
He is looking to showcase more than just his defense, though.
Walker showed the ability to stretch the floor after shooting 34.7% from 3-point range on 2.8 attempts per game. He also offered some promise as a playmaker and flourished in that role in a limited sample size, as noted by Rafael Barlowe of NBA Big Board.
“I think my biggest asset is really my defense, my versatility there,” Walker said. “Obviously, that’s what people focus on but there are so many other things on the floor that I can do — work ethic and playing hard. I feel like that is the main thing that’ll keep you on the floor, playing hard and impacting winning; making all of the little plays.”
His workout with the Pacers was his first of the pre-draft process. He will also visit Detroit and Utah next ahead of the draft on June 22. He is projected to be drafted in the 5-10 range as the three teams have each been linked to him thus far.
Certainly, his overall skill set and ability to impact games in a variety of ways is something every team could use and the 19-year-old is eager to get started.