TOC: Player Evaluations

Raleigh, NC – A couple Illinois targets were in the triangle this past weekend for the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions and here's a look at how they fared.

Willie Walker, 5'11 PG, Illinois Wolves - Here's a guy that certainly helped his stock at the Tournament of Champions. Listed at 6'0, Walker's closer to 5'10 and his size may scare away some programs, but he can play. He is a good shooter who doesn't force anything and is already comfortable directing traffic. He led a squad with marginal high-major players to the quarterfinals of one of the top AAU tournaments in the country, and did so by doing whatever his team needed him to do. Against the Atlanta Celtics and top point guard prospect Javaris Crittendon, Walker was superb. He was able to get in the lane at will, where he finished with little floaters over bigger defenders or would use his body to create contact and space for soft jumpers. He was also nine-of-nine in the final minutes from the free throw line, sealing the victory for the Wolves.

Mature beyond his years, Walker is one of those guys who makes you notice his talent even when he isn't putting up huge numbers because he's just that smooth. He'll be a player for one lucky high-major program.

Marques Johnson, 6'5 PG, Blessed IJN - Johnson first gained popularity a few years back as one of the elite players in his class at the shooting guard position. Two years later, he's developed into a high-major point guard prospect who is almost a pass-first point. He can break his man down off the dribble and does a terrific job attacking the basket where he finishes with nifty floaters off the glass or crafty passes to his teammates.

Johnson is also a solid ballhandler in the open court, where he looks to push the ball at every opportunity and constantly apply pressure on the defense. I'd like to see him look to score even more, which is surprising given how much some analysts try to say he's not a point guard. Because he has such a great frame, Johnson can also hit the glass on both ends and defend multiple positions.

He still needs to improve his overall quickness to defend ACC-level point guards, but he'll present problems for them on the offensive end as well. He'll remind folks a bit of Georgia Tech point guard Jarrett Jack, another big guard that can physically overpower the smaller, "true" point guards while also having the quickness to create problems in the lane. Johnson is the type of guard NC State's system covets and it's no surprise that he appears to be high on their board.

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