Walker Approaches Milestone

Erving Walker's love for the big shots came when he was seven years old. In double overtime in a league of nine-year-olds and older, Walker stepped to the free throw line. The game seemed to be dragging on, and he had a chance to put it away.

Walker was calm. He has never been one to show much emotion on the court. He released both shots with confidence and let them fly, but did they go in?

"Yeah," Erving Walker said with a laugh, almost wondering if there was a doubt. "It doesn't bother me (to take the big shots). I've been that way since I was young. It just doesn't bother me."

Walker hasn't had many problems scoring in his life. He is listed at 5-8, but that seems generous at times. He has managed to put together a solid career, as he now stands 14 points shy of the 1,000 mark for his career. He will have an opportunity to break that mark Saturday night when the Gators host Ole Miss in the SEC opener.

There were questions about his performance as he moved to every level of basketball. When Florida offered and Walker committed, there were plenty of questions surrounding it.

However, it was a close relationship to Billy Donovan that made the difference. Donovan was in elementary school when he met Bob Oliva, who was a family friend. Oliva was Walker's coach at Christ the King High School.

"I really trust him," Donovan said of Oliva. "He had a lot of great things to say about Erving as a player coming out of high school. Everyone's first concern is that this guy is 5-8 on a good day."

Walker came in one year after the Gators signed Nick Calathes and Jai Lucas. The depth at point guard allowed Walker to play the shooting guard position and do something he's never had an issue with.

He was a scorer.

"Erving came in here and earned his way. He never got wrapped up in positions," Donovan said. "Nick Calathes was our point guard, and Erving played the entire time at the two-guard spot. He really benefited from Nick because he really made the game easy for Erving."

Even when Walker got to campus in Gainesville, players questioned his ability when they first met him. 6-10 forward Chandler Parsons, who dwarfs Walker when they're standing next to each other, admitted he was a little hesitant of what Walker could do. That was until he saw his first shot.

"I was like, "Man this guy is little." Then I saw him shoot the ball and he can really shoot it. He's really held his own and hit some big shots for us," Parsons said.

The benefit of sitting behind Calathes as a freshman allowed Walker to make the switch back to point guard without much trouble when he started there as a sophomore. He didn't care about the players in front of him at the position when he came to Florida, and he was rewarded with a starting position during his second season.

"He has handled every role very well," Donovan said. "He's a great kid to coach who works hard. There's a toughness and competitiveness about him that I love."

Walker knows he struggled at some points during last season, especially with his conditioning, but a lot of that had to do with he and Kenny Boynton being the only two true guards on the team. He was forced to play a lot of minutes.

This season, Walker knows the issue. He is a scoring point guard, but he has to focus more on taking care of the basketball. The junior has 43 assists this season, but it's the 42 turnovers that haunt him.

"He's got to make better decisions," Donovan said. "It's a fine line with any aggressive player. He's got to eliminate the bad turnovers where he's down the lane too deep and leaves his feet. He's got to keep the dribble alive and bring it back out. He's learning and trying to do those things."

For Walker, it means slowing down. It means working the shot clock and not forcing a pass just because he sees an open man.

"I'm not going to try and force things, but I'm not going to play tentative," Walker said. "I'm just going to play basketball."

Walker can check a milestone off his list on Saturday if he can reach 14 points and go over the 1,000 mark. As always, he's not concerned. He would take zero points, as long as the team gets a win.

That's how it is for Walker. He's not afraid of any older players in his way, but he wants to make sure he helps the team first.

"It doesn't mean a whole lot to me," Walker said. "I've played a lot of minutes on the court since I was a freshman, so it comes with the territory. It's nice to have, but it's not a big deal to me."

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