Throughout the spring and summer, Hoops Rumors will be talking with some of the most intriguing prospects in the 2015 NBA Draft. Today, the Hoops Rumors Draft Prospect Q&A series continues with Florida product Chris Walker, whom Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress ranks No. 52 in this year’s class and Chad Ford of ESPN.com rates 56th.
Chris Walker came to the University of Florida with a tremendous amount of hype behind him. Offered by top programs all over the country – including Kansas, Louisville, UNC, Ohio State, and many many more – Walker was arguably one of the most talented recruits ever brought into the fold by coach Billy Donovan.
How good was Walker? Top scouting services put the forward in their top ten nationally, ahead of names like Noah Vonleh, Joel Embiid, and James Young. Walker wasn’t an elite collegiate performer at Florida, but he showed glimpses of his tremendous talent over two years and NBA scouts know that the skills are still there. Now, Walker is gearing up for the workout circuit to convince a team to draft him and mine his vast untapped potential. Walker, a client of Travis King at Relativity Sports, spoke with Hoops Rumors about his time at Florida and what he hopes to do going forward.
Zach Links: You came out as sophomore this year. Did you wrestle with the decision to go pro early? What went into the decision? Were you hearing from NBA people that you had an excellent chance of getting drafted?
Chris Walker: It was a tough decision, but I wanted to focus on basketball and put 100% of my focus on my craft. Just from talking with my family and my agent, it was clear that everybody believed that I could do it and I did, too. I felt like if I could focus on basketball exclusively, then I could achieve great things in this sport.
ZL: You have the ability to drive to the basket and you don’t see that too often in a 6’10” big man. Have you always been strong at slashing to the hoop?
CW: That’s something that I’ve always done but I was actually told not to do that as much at Florida, because it didn’t fit in with the offense there. I’m excited to show that off now.
ZL: Do you have any regrets about how things played out at Florida?
CW: Of course I wish I could have done better, but I don’t know, I just feel like if I wanted to get better, I needed to go up a notch in competition to get better. I feel like everything happens for a reason and I have a great future ahead of me.
ZL: Are you a more mature person than you were when you came out of high school?
CW: I feel like I’m a way more mature person right now; I’ve grown physically and mentally. Mainly, I feel like I’ve grown a lot. I think some of the struggles actually woke me up a bit and humbled me and made me a tougher guy both on and off the court.
ZL: You’re fairly skinny at 6’10”, 220 pounds. Do you plan on getting bigger? How much bigger?
CW: I plan on getting bigger and getting up to the 235-240 pound range. At the same time though, I’m trying to keep my athleticism, explosiveness, and lateral movement. Right now I’m just being disciplined with how I eat and how I work out and taking all my supplements. I make sure that I take my creatine every day.
ZL: If you had to write your own scouting report, what would you say about yourself and what you can do on the court?
CW: I’m going to be a player in the NBA that is an energy guy. I’m going to give 110% every time. When the coach comes to me on the floor during practice I’m going to work out as hard as I can, pay attention to the veteran guys, and follow their lead. I want to learn from the best guys out there and I really feel that the sky is the limit for me.
ZL: While you’re writing your own scouting report, how about an NBA comparison for yourself?
CW: Right now I think I’m sort of an Anthony Davis type player, even if i’m not as polished as he is. He put on a lot of weight and I feel like we have the same frame and that’s who I want to pattern my game around.
ZL: So you must really pride yourself on your defense.
CW: I really enjoy playing D, even more than offense. I like blocking shots, rebounding the ball, and helping. Don’t get me wrong, I like the offensive end too and getting up and down the floor in transition. I want to work on post moves even more though so that I can really be effective in the halfcourt set.
ZL: What are you hearing about where you might get drafted?
CW: I’m not really hearing much specifically, but whatever team wants to take a shot at me, they won’t regret it.
ZL: Why did you choose Travis King and the folks at Relativity Sports to represent you?
CW: They’re like family to me. They have my back and it feels like a family connection, so that’s why I chose them.