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October 12, 2006

Walker at best on the move

Small forward
6-6, 220, Cincinnati North College Hill

Rivals.com Rankings
Rivals150 for 2007: No. 6 overall
2007 Small forwards: No. 2

Career Stats
2005-06 (Jr.) 22.4 N/A N/A

Watch the latest highlights of Bill Walker in action

No one has ever doubted the athleticism of Bill Walker. But when Walker called for super athlete and USC commitment Davon Jefferson to guard him near the half court line during a game two summers ago at the Big Time in Las Vegas, Walker displayed a level of athleticism that would rival the greatest small forwards to play the game. Twice, Jefferson inched forward to defend Walker. Both times, Walker blew past him with nifty dribble moves and took off from the free-throw line to dunk on the remainder of Jefferson's H-squad teammates.

The question going into this travel circuit season was whether Walker would display the skill development that would allow him to become an NBA All-Star caliber small forward.

"What Walker did against Davon Jefferson in Las Vegas was jaw-dropping for even the biggest basketball purist," Rivals.com National Analyst Jerry Meyer said. "All I could think about after witnessing that display of powerful athleticism was how unbelievably good Walker could be if he harnessed that talent into a more disciplined and refined game."

Walker certainly had moments this summer, particularly at the ABCD Camp. Walker's play inspired visions of Julius Erving, Michael Jordan and Tracy McGrady. Walker's body control in the air and ability to swing the ball around in the palm of one hand reminded many of Dr. J.

When he buckled down on defense and shut down every other top wing player at the camp, Walker displayed Jordan's defensive competitiveness and prowess. And when he whipped the ball between his legs and slashed to the rim for dunks, it looked a lot like McGrady gliding down the lane.

Against tight man-to-man defense at the ABCD Camp, Walker definitely looked like a future NBA All-Star. But during this summer's Big Time in Las Vegas, no one took the challenge of squaring off with Walker near midcourt. Instead, teams packed in the zone - slowing the game down and challenging Walker to shoot from outside.

In this type of scenario, Walker appeared to be an average player because his ability to slash to the basket was taken away from him. His lack of confidence in his outside jumper was exposed.

"Walker was certainly impressive, and once again tantalizing, with his play at the ABCD," said Meyer. "He handled the ball well, passed it and hit 15-footers off the dribble. But when he got out to Vegas and teams packed it in, it was another story. You could see it in his eyes that he didn't want to shoot the spot-up 3-pointer. He ended up either forcing his way through traffic with very mixed results or just standing around on the perimeter."

Walker faces the dilemma of most great basketball athletes. Can he give up his dunking, face up to his weakness as a shooter and get up shot after shot in the gym and make himself a legitimate outside threat? Or does he try to hide his weakness as a shooter, avoid the necessary drill work in the gym and get by on the occasional highlight-reel dunk?

The answer to this dilemma rests in just how good Walker wants to be.

His top-shelf athleticism, defensive capabilities and playmaking skills with the ball will surely earn him an NBA roster spot and a nice paycheck. Add a reliable outside jumper to his game, however, and there is the potential for him to be one of the better wings to play the game.

Rivals.com is unveiling its preseason Elite Team for the Class of 2007. Comprised of the nation's top high school basketball stars, the Elite Team is broken down into position-specific first, second and third teams. These stars will soon be signing with the top college basketball programs en route to the NBA. We will announce one player each weekday from Oct. 2-20.

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