Class of 2013 power forward Chris Walker‘s (Watch List) rise in the rankings can only be matched by one thing: the rise in interest from top-tier college coaches he’s received.
“Coaches are contacting me every single day,” Walker said laughing in a phone interview. “They are always talking to me on Facebook or calling me, it’s constant.” Walker estimated that he gets close to 50 Facebook messages and 15 phone calls from coaches each week.
With interest from almost every elite program in the country, Walker has a plethora of options for where he could play college basketball at. “My list of schools is Kentucky, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Kansas, Alabama, Syracuse and Baylor,” says Walker. “They all have good coaching staffs and most of them sends guys to the pros.”
He also has a good idea of what he’s looking for in a program. Says Walker, “I want to go to a school that produces pros, has a great fan base, has great academics, has a good basketball team and has a coach that I have a good relationship with.” And with his innate physical abilities and athleticism, it’s natural that he wants to play in a more up-tempo offense. “I want to play in the Run’N’Gun, a system that attacks the rim and lets their big man play out on the perimeter some.”
Another thing Walker says will affect his recruitment is which college players are already at the schools he is considering. “I’m definitely going to take into consideration who coaches already have,” says Walker. “If guys like [class of 2011 power forward] Anthony Davis (#1) are already at Kentucky, I probably won’t go there. That’s another thing I’m looking at.”
As for any schools that stand out right now, he quickly mentioned Kentucky, Florida and Syracuse but he later added Texas and Kansas to his shortlist of colleges that he likes the most. However, don’t count out the Baylor Bears in Walker’s recruitment because of their clear interest in him.
“When Baylor head coach Scott Drew talked to me first at midnight [when coaches could start calling], I was just like, dang, coach Drew called me first and other coaches didn’t? It made me put them in my list of schools.”
However, other coaches did talk to Walker after Drew and Walker says his conversation with Kentucky head coach John Calipari stood out. “Coach Cal was telling me about all the people he’s put in the pros and if I come to Kentucky he won’t just give it to me,” says Walker. “[He said] I’ll have to work hard to earn my minutes. When he told me that it really stood out.”
Kentucky was also his favorite college basketball team to watch growing up. “I just liked the way they played, their colors and their fan base is crazy, I just love everything about them.” Walker says that Kentucky fans are definitely recruiting him the hardest as well and that it is making an impact. “Everyday they are writing something to me on Twitter… it just shows they’re crazy.”
However, he says that the coaching staff he has the best relationship with is Florida and in particular he has a strong relationship with head coach Billy Donovan and assistant coach Norm Roberts. “I talk to them like everyday,” Walker says. “They also send me a lot of videos on Facebook like highlights of all of their dunks from last season.”
Even with all of these recruiting pitches from coaches and fans, Walker says that where other players in his class goes will affect his decision as well. “I want to play with [class of 2013 center] Nerlens Noel (Watch List),” says Walker. “We’ve actually talked about scheduling visits on the same day. We’ve talked about visiting Kentucky, Florida and a bunch of other schools.”
He also speculated on who he thinks Noel’s favorite school is, and in turn suggested he has the same favorite. “I think his favorite school is also Kentucky,” said Walker. When asked if Kentucky is also his favorite school he said yes, but he isn’t quite sure yet. Class of 2013 power forward Julius Randle (Watch List) is another player Walker says he wouldn’t mind playing in college.
If you think coaches, fans and fellow class of 2013 stars are the only people recruiting Walker, well, you’re wrong. “[Class of 2011 shooting guard] Austin Rivers (#2) of Duke is recruiting me, [class of 2011 power forward] Quincy [Miller] (#7) is trying to get me to go to Baylor and [class of 2011 shooting guard] Brad Beal (#5) wants me at Florida,” Walker says. “They’re always hitting me up, it’s crazy.”
“Quincy is doing the best,” Walker added. “He’s always sending me pictures and stuff and is telling me how cool the campus and coach Drew are.”
However, this trio of older players isn’t just recruiting him but they’re also helping Walker along the recruiting process. “They are mentoring me too and not just recruiting me,” says Walker. “They are giving me advice on what to say and what not to say.”
Although, with all of this attention surrounding his recruitment, Walker just wants to focus on playing basketball, what he loves doing most. “I love playing basketball… and it opens up a lot of doors,” says Walker. “I love being able to play against great competition, I get to compete against the best players in my class and I enjoy it.”
Another thing that separates Walker from his counterparts is his forward-thinking and intelligence. “I want to make sure the school I go to has good academic programs as sort of a back-up plan,” Walker says. “I want to be able to do something after basketball.”
As for a timetable for his commitment, he doesn’t know when he wants to make his decision but he does want to visit Kentucky, Louisville and Ohio State in August. When asked why he wants to visit the Cardinals but doesn’t have them on his list yet, he cited Louisville head coach Rick Pitino‘s recent contact with him and a desire to get a feel for the program.
However, with all of this attention that he is receiving it’s important for his family to make sure he stays level-headed. “My parents have helped me the most in the recruiting process,” says Walker. “They just tell me not to feed into everything and not to get big-headed. They just want me to stay humble.”