Walker Small in Size, Big in Heart

Billy Donovan laughed the first time he saw Erving Walker in person. He was a sophomore from Christ the King High School visiting Gainesville after his high school coach told Donovan about what a good player the guard was. It took a while for Donovan to come around. With taller point guards starting to become the trend, the Florida head coach figured he'd be better to look elsewhere.

It's hard to blame Donovan's skepticism. The Gators could've gone elsewhere to get a taller point guard that was likely a better defender, too. When Donovan first met Walker in Gainesville, he had a reaction that now makes him laugh.

"You've got to be kidding me," Donovan said was his first comment on Walker. "This guy is like 5-2. No chance."

His reputation started to grow. Walker's high school coach started to give more and more glowing reports of his point guard's performance. Eventually, the Gators decided to offer and Walker committed.

Donovan realized his underdog mentality and thought he knew what a competitor Walker was.

After Walker signed his letter of intent, Donovan was in New York visiting him. The two were walking out of his high school together, when Donovan was heading to his car and Walker heading for the subway.

One of Walker's classmates ran over to ask him to come back to school and play a card game. Walker declined, saying he had to get home. That changed when his classmate started to talk some trash about beating Walker.

All of a sudden, Walker's tone changed. He said goodbye to Donovan and turned back towards the school, missing the subway to take on a challenge.

"He's just competitive like that," Donovan said. "He has always been like that. When you're that small and always have to fight for respect, he has adopted that he knows he has to earn it. He is going to be evaluated by winning and losing as a point guard, and with his size, he really takes on those challenges."

The opponents that didn't take notice during the regular season are doing so in the postseason. Walker led the Gators with 21 points in a win over UCLA, bringing Florida its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2007.

The Gators scored 12 points in the final 3:58 of the game, and Walker was involved in all of them. He scored ten and had an assist on the other that produced a Vernon Macklin layup.

"You don't see many point guards that are 5-8 these days," UCLA forward Tyler Honeycutt said. "They're usually bigger. He can shoot from almost 30-feet, so it's hard to get out there on him because he's also so quick."

UCLA head coach referred to Walker as "the little guy" multiple times in his postgame press conference. The difference is now that Walker isn't just known for being short. He has taken the next step this season, now becoming a reliable scoring option for the Gators.

"He's so quick and very athletic," Howland said. "He can really shoot it. He is a fearless little guy."

Walker has been given plenty nicknames in his life, most of them having to do with his height. After Saturday's game in the locker room, Florida shooting guard Kenny Boynton suggested the nickname "Big Shot Erv." When asked about it, Walker would choose that one over the others.

"We can just go with what Kenny said," Walker said, smiling more as every word came out of his mouth. "I like that one."

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