Florida Prep Star Looks Like Tide Fit
'BAMA Magazine/BamaMag.com spoke to Winter Haven Senior High School Head Basketball Coach Tyrone Woodside about class of 2012 Alabama prospect DeVon Walker.
The Winter Haven senior is an all-around talent fitting the quintessential mold of an Anthony Grant type basketball player. An abnormal wing span of 7 feet, 1 inch allows the 6-6, 190-pound Walker to be a menacing defender capable of harassing the opposition on the perimeter or near the goal. "He came to me as a freshman at 5-9 when the season started. He grew six inches in three months," Woodside said.
Projected to be a shooting guard and small forward in college, the wiry strong Walker possesses point guard skills. He started for two years at the position before transitioning to the role of primary scorer as a junior. Woodside said, "Just having the skill set, if he moves to the three he can always play the point forward position. He is conscious of what everybody is supposed to be doing on the court, in tune with the coach. Having that skill really helps out a coach."
Two freshmen and a sophomore are in the Winter Haven the starting lineup. Walker has demonstrated strong leadership qualities according to his head coach. "He cried after the Regional Finals Saturday because he put so much pressure on himself," said Woodside. "He felt like it was his responsibility to take the team to the state championship." A 6A state semifinal berth was insured as the conscientious senior responded with an outstanding 27-point, 14-rebound, 3-blocked shot effort in a 77-64 victory over Palmetto High School.
Walker learned the game from his cousin, LeDawn Gibson, formally Winter Haven Senior High School girls coach and currently the Florida A&M University head women's basketball coach. Woodside said, "When I first started here--the first two years I was the assistant coach--DeVon would be in the gym practicing with the girls team as a sixth grader. Coach Gibson would come over and joke with me and say ‘That one I'll have ready for you.' I would watch him. He was all arms and legs like a young colt."
Walker has a temperament coaches cherish.
"His parents did an excellent job; he is a well-mannered kid," Woodside said. "Never talks back to me ever. A great kid." Discipline permeates every endeavor. Walker holds a 4.1 GPA and has been cleared academically by the NCAA Eligibility Center.
Following basketball practice, two hours are equally rationed to further development. They are devoted to refining his shot and weight lifting.
Proficient shooting, adept ball-handling, intelligent passing, relentless defending, and sheer body length are the strengths his prized pupil can contribute to a team. "He is a natural point guard and has one of the sweetest strokes you'll ever see," said Woodside, a Long Island native. Nicknamed "KD" for resembling the shot release and body type of Kevin Durant, Walker has flourished under the scrutiny of taskmasters.
Woodside said, "He has been fortunate to have coaches that push him and won't let him settle. Many kids that talented may have a coach concerned about him being turned off. He is a kid that allows himself to be coached. He lets us point out his weaknesses and jump on him until he fixes them."
Early career projections by recruiters destined the versatile talent as a mid major Division I prospect. A growth spurt and physical maturity through strength training elevated Walker's stature. High profile coaching staffs eventually inquired but the initial slight was heart felt.
"He plays with a chip on his shoulder because he is trying to prove everybody wrong," said Woodside, a cousin to Tide Head Coach Anthony Grant. Alabama's interest piqued after his junior year. A scholarship offer by Bama was extended before school began in the fall. He officially visited The Capstone in mid February. Walker was introduced to Alabama on a trip to Tuscaloosa with Coach Woodside and the team after Grant was hired in 2009. Local suitor Central Florida has offered and he officially visited in the fall. The future Big East Conference Orlando based school remains a serious candidate for his signature. Clemson and Kansas State are tentatively on the visit list.
the Scout.com three-star prospect is averaging 24.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. He is a 46 per cent field goal shooter, including 32 per cent on three-point shots, and hits 78 per cent of his free throws. He also averages 2.6 assists, 1.4 steals, and 2.3 blocked shots per game and has only 73 turnovers in 28 games.
He is a three-time all-county selection and a candidate for Florida's 6A player of the year. His team will play in the state semifinals Friday in Lakeland.
He has been invited to participate in the Florida vs. USA Hardwood Classic All-Star Game to be held March 23 in Orlando.
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