A Look Ahead: Kirk Walters

Lute Olson pulled Kirk Walters out if his redshirt for two reasons. The first was to help the Cats this year. With Isaiah Fox struggling, Olson thought the big man could pay dividends this season. He also knew he'd need Walters next year and the only surefire way to get him ready was to play him.

Kirk Walters
6-10, 233, JR
Grand Rapids, MI (South Christian HS)

G-GS: 21-0
PPG: 2.4
RPG: 1.4
FG%: .548
3PT%: .000

WHAT HE BRINGS TO THE TABLE:
Walters could be "Channing Frye-Lite." He has similar size and moves, but as a sophomore he isn't as polished as Frye was as a freshman. Walters has good size and decent athleticism. He has some decent moves in the post and looks capable of developing more.

He has become more and more aggressive, and has gotten good at finishing around the bucket. He has great timing on blocked shots and could be the program's best shot blocker since Loren Woods.

WHAT HE NEEDS TO WORK ON:
Walters is really a work in progress. He showed flashes of what Lute Olson sees in him, but he still has some improving to do. First and foremost Walters needs to get stronger. He's added almost 30 pounds of muscle since arriving in Tucson, but Olson wants his big man at around 250 pounds next season.

Walters needs to get more athletic. That statement sounds curious at first, but Walters has athleticism he has not tapped. Frye recently said, "he doesn't know how athletic he really is." Where he really needs to improve is his defensive footwork. He was not a good defender out on the perimeter this past season and opponents will continue to take him outside if he does not improve.

He also needs to fine tune his offensive game. Walters was much better when he tried to dunk the ball on every play, but he can't dunk every possession. He's a good shooter, especially from the free throw stripe, and he can be a great weapon if he can take defenders outside to guard his shot. He needs to add a 15-foot jumper into his arsenal. He also needs to improve his moves around the basket.

2005-06 ROLE
Walters will be the starting center next season. Lute Olson took him out of his redshirt for this very reason, to play next season. Walters has the potential to be a very good big man, but there is no guarantee. He's a hard working kid and he should improve, the only question is how much. If he makes great strides and becomes at least 10-6 guy, the Cats will have one of the best frontlines in the league. If he does not progress as the coaches hope, expect him to platoon with Mohamed Tangara and possibly Isaiah Fox.


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