NBPA Top 100: M.J. Walker

If only it were the 1990s, when life was much simpler for your average two-sport star. Back then, a player realistically could play two sports throughout high school and into college. In the modern era, however, players such as Georgia’s M.J. Walker almost are forced to choose one over the other at a relatively early age.

Don’t blame rising junior M.J. Walker if he hasn’t yet crafted a tight, cohesive recruitment. How could he, when he doesn’t know yet whether he’ll play basketball or football in college?

Walker ranks highly for both sports, yet realistically his best bet of advancing to the professional level will require him to specialize. Training for football versus basketball obviously is very different, and of course repetition and experience count for a great deal in both endeavors. Simply put, he has a lot to think about over the next several months.

”I’m still playing both (sports), I like both equally,” Walker said. “I haven’t made a complete decision on what I want to do.”

Walker has split time so far this summer between the hardwood and the gridiron, and he has been successful at each, having recently attended a key football camp as well as last week’s NBPA Top 100 Camp for hoops.

”I just went to Georgia for a seven-on-seven (football) camp and did pretty well up there,” Walker said. “I was the No. 1 wide receiver up there. I also have (basketball) camps coming up, Steph Curry and Under Armour’s camp.

”My dad is real open about it. He’s just letting my talent fall where it does.”

Walker’s hoops game relies on power and athleticism. He’s solidily built but is more explosive than most athletes with that body type, and he also can knock down long threes. He’ll need to sharpen up his dribbling if he chooses to concentrate on basketball, but clearly he has ample time to address any deficiencies while continuing to play to his strengths.

Recruiting Walker obviously presents a conundrum for college coaches. Some have said he can play both sports, but from a basketball perspective that means he’d sign for football, miss critical development during the summer and fall, then join the team late each season. And for that reason, the two-sport phenomenon generally has fallen by the wayside.

Coaches thus must ask themselves how much to invest on a player who may not even be a full-time hoopster, and obviously his potential gridiron coaches would want him to develop in their sport year-round as well. But as a testament to his talent and potential, Walker nevertheless holds offers and interest from major programs.

Maryland, MemphisFlorida State was looking at me,” he said. “Georgia offered me.”

Walker slots as a top-five player at his position in basketball and, as long as he’s considering hoops for college, will continue to be a mainstay in our coverage.

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