ABCD: Bill Walker steps out of O.J. Mayo's shadow

<b>TEANECK, NJ</b> - Sophomore Bill Walker has been overshadowed by teammate O.J. Mayo but that's about to change. Athletic and talented, Walker is emerging into one of the top prospects in the class of 2007 and he's got the Louisville Cardinals on his early short list of favorites.

O.J. Mayo is virtually a household name these days. The Cincinnati, Ohio star has received plenty of attention the past few years and he's already earned celebrity status on the high school recruiting stage.

But Mayo isn't the only player on his high school and AAU team that's earning a national reputation. Of course, if you've been paying any attention the past few days, then you already know we're talking about 6-foot-5 sophomore guard Bill Walker.

Perhaps overshadowed by Mayo's presence, Walker has been impressive at several stops along the AAU circuit this spring, including an outstanding performance at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in May. This week, again teaming with Mayo at the ABCD Camp in Teaneck, New Jersey, Walker has once again been impressive. And despite the accolades and attention heaped upon his more famous teammate, the Huntington, West Virginia native believes he's reaped the benefits of Mayo's fame.

"The attention he's gotten the past few years has been great for me," Walker explained. "If he hadn't been there I probably wouldn't be getting the looks that I am. So I don't see it as being in his shadow one bit."

Through the first four games, Walker averaged 9.3 points, 3 rebounds and 1.3 steals, connecting on 53-percent from the floor, including 40-percent from beyond the arch. Extremely athletic, Walker is becoming proficient at catching and shooting from 18 feet and in, has a nice midrange touch and knows how to attack the basket. But it's his willingness to battle for rebounds and play in your face defense that separates from other wings in his class. On Friday, Walker shut down 6-5 Courtney Fells (recently committed to N.C. State), something the youngster takes pride in accomplishing.

"It's fun to compete against other players from around the country and see where your game is at," Walker said. "And I think I can play with anybody on any given day. I play hard all the time. My strengths are hitting open jumpers, playing hard defense and getting out on the break."

"I'm always trying to improve my defense," Walker added. "This camp teaches you that you've got to play physical and hard defense because these guys are older and more experienced."

His efforts haven't gone unnoticed. Louisville's Rick Pitino was one of a host of major college coaches that caught Walker's Friday afternoon game. And although only a sophomore, Walker already has an early list of favorites with a heavy lean to the Big East Conference.

"I'm real open to where I'm going," Walker said. "But I like Cincinnati, Louisville and Syracuse."

Asked why Louisville ranks high on his early list of favorites, Walker gave what's become the standard answer and said it's extremely likely the Cardinals will be in the hunt when he makes his decision in a couple of years, "Pitino. They've got that open style of play."

Following a super week of camp, Walker finished with a bang, leading the West with 22 points and taking home Co-MVP honors of the underclass All-Star game.


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