Pitino offers sound advice to Martez Walker

<b>HOOPS RECRUITING</b> While NCAA rules prohibit Louisville's Rick Pitino from initiating telephone contact with freshman recruit <b>Martez Walker</b>, the rule doesn't prohibit Pitino from accepting Walker's call - or from offering advice to the talented 16 year-old freshman guard/forward once on the line.

Martez Walker called Louisville coach Rick Pitino last week to formalize his decision to become a Cardinal in the fall of 2008.

While NCAA rules prohibit Pitino from initiating telephone contact with Walker, the rule doesn't prohibit Pitino from accepting Walker's call - or from offering advice to the talented 16 year-old freshman guard/forward once on the line.

"Martez called Coach Pitino last week," Martez' father Larry Walker said. "Coach Pitino told him he looked forward to him coming to Louisville. And he told him to stay humble and keep working hard to improve his game."

And while most things surrounding teen-agers are far from certain, the elder Walker states emphatically that his son's commitment to Louisville is written in stone.

"His commitment is firm," the elder Walker said. "He's not going to change his mind. He's going to Louisville."

"Other schools still call but I tell them he's made his decision," Walker added. "He gets a lot of mail from other schools and he doesn't even bother to open it and read it."

Almost without question, Pitino was the major factor in Walker's decision. However, Walker's father has made it clear the "family atmosphere" at Louisville and the warm hospitality his son has received during his trips to the city were also critical in his decision-making process.

"I've laid a foundation of structure in his life and Rick Pitino is only going to build on that," Walker said. "Martez wants to play for Rick Pitino. He can't get any better than that. And the family atmosphere at Louisville is great. Martez just knows that's the program he wants to be a part of and the school he wants to attend."

In his team's last game, Walker once again scored over 20 points against Community Christian (AL) earlier this week. Now, as the season winds down, Walker and the Eagles are preparing for the National Christian Tournament in Dayton, Tennessee starting March 8.

In the meantime, Walker will continue to hone his driving skills - not on the court but on the streets.

"He got his learners permit the other day. He can't drive by himself yet but he can with someone else in the car with him," Walker said. "He's also doing well in school and he's already learned to budget his money and make it last for the entire month. I'm very proud of him."

Fans in Louisville should also be proud a player and person the caliber of Martez Walker has chosen to play for the Cardinals.

NOTE According to Larry Walker, Martez will be back at Central Park Christian next season and the Eagles have already accepted an invitation to play in the King of the Bluegrass at Fairdale High School in December. In fact, his family will be moving to Birmingham later this summer. "He's tired of moving," Walker said. "He's the son of a military officer and he's just tired of always moving and having to fit in some place new."


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