Making A Point

In his weekly column, Dudley E. Dawson chats with Little Rock Hall sophomore A.J. Walton (6-1, 180) who was at the AAO Top 25 this weekend and is arguably the state's best point guard. This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is a special offer to attend a Razorback event on the Arkansas Toyota Dealers website. Click on a banner for details.

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SPRINGDALE - Little Rock Hall sophomore point guard A.J. Walton was clearly visible this past weekend at the AAO Top 25 basketball event because of his shoes – the ones with orange trim that are the Warriors' traditional footwear.

But even if he not had the flashy shoes, Walton (6-1, 180) no doubt would have been been noticed anyway since he is arguably the state's best point guard regardless of classification.

"I am a playmaker and I can drive and shoot," Walton said when asked about his strengths. ""I am going to focus this summer on my defense, especially, and continue to work on my jump shot," Walton said. "I'll just get in the gym every day. Anytime I can get in there I will."

Walton is coming off a sophomore season in which he led Little Rock Hall to a 25-3 record, a No. 1 ranking in the state during the regular season, a 6A-South championship and two wins in three tries over arch-rival Little Rock Parkview.

He did so while averaging 13.6 points, 5.1 assists, 3.5 steals and 3.1 rebounds per game – stats that already have schools such as Arkansas, Texas A&M, Stanford and Auburn showing interest.

"Our year went real good, better than last year actually and that wasn't something that we expected, " Walton said. "We had a small team, but really played well as a group."

It was a season that ended abruptly with a shocking 75-55 state tournament second-round loss to Jacksonville, the third seed from 6A-East.

"We didn't play hard enough," Walton said. "We were lackadaisical and didn't play defense."

That kept the expected semifinal match-ups between host and eventual state champion Jonesboro and Little Rock Hall on one side of the bracket and Forrest City and Little Rock Parkview on the other side from coming off.

"Still while we didn't get it done in that last game, we had a great season and really bonded together as a team," Walton said. "It was a fun run."

Walton is a guy who is able to both penetrate – as evidence by getting to the free throw line 160 times this season while shooting 70 percent from the charity stripe – and knock down his shot from both mid-range and deep.

He had a 29-point performance in a win over Lake Hamilton this season in which he was 16-of-20 from the free throw line.

"I love getting in the lane and dishing it off to a teammate for an easy score or being able to finish the play off myself," Walton said. "But I also know when it is best to work the ball outside and look for the advantage there."

He patterns his game after Miami star Dewayne Wade.

"I really like the Dewayne Wade is so fearless getting into the lane and also can hurt you from outside and with his passing," Walton said. "That is what I try to do with my game."

Walton, who had 10 points in the state tournament as a ninth-grader in his team's state tournament loss to Jonesboro back in 2006, was one of the top 25 players selected to play in the AAO Top 25 All-Star game this weekend.

He had 14 points to lead his White team although the Blue squad grabbed a 64-59 win.

"I got to meet a lot of new people and got to play with them and against them," Walton said. "It was a lot of fun."

Walton says he is already getting attention from schools such as Arkansas, Texas A&M, Stanford and Auburn.

"All of those are really good schools," Walton said. "Arkansas a great arena and a nice locker room and their players are really cool. "I like Arkansas a lot. I came up there when they played USC in football and have been to several games."

Walton will be playing with the Arkansas Wings AAU squad this summer in such events as the Real Deal on the Hill in Fayetteville on April 6-8, Little Rock's Rockin' the Rock and the AAU National Tournament in Orlando.

"We're playing a lot of tournaments and I love playing AAU ball because you get to travel the country and play great competition," Walton said. "That just makes you better and that is what I am all about."

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