|27 Jun 2003 08:51:14|
|Kerr on Walton|
"I keep telling everybody I see that they'd be stupid not to draft him
in the first round," said Kerr, who, like Walton, attended the
University of Arizona and played for Coach Lute Olson. "If you look at
him compared to the other guys who are going to go in the first round,
he's a better basketball player than 90 percent of them, maybe more.
"He's the best passer coming out, I think. His basketball I.Q. is
really, really high. He’s smart. He's going to work hard. He's
going to be a great teammate and he is skilled. He's 6-8, can handle
the ball and I think in the right situation I think he could be really
effective. And I expect him to be in the league a long time."
Besides pedigree, the 6-8 Walton also has solid numbers, both
statistically and in winning percentage. He is one of only three
players in Pac-10 history to total 1,000 career points, 500 rebounds
and 500 assists, joining former NBA players Ron Lee (Oregon) and Pooh
Richardson (UCLA); and during his four-year career, the Wildcats won
102 of his 129 (.791) games played.
Walton, however, saw his draft stock tumble when a sprained ankle
forced him to sit out four games during his senior year at Arizona.
Hampered by the injury, Walton’s scoring average fell from 15.7
points his junior year to 10.8 points, while his field goal percentage
slid from .470 to .420. He did rebound to post NCAA Tournament
averages of 15.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists in four games.
In Arizona’s season-ending loss to Kansas in NCAA Elite Eight,
the "point-forward" tallied 18 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
Walton's value appears to have taken an upturn with a solid
performance in the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Chicago.
"I think I played well," Walton said. "I was put on a good team. It
was a lot of fun. All the people I had been playing against for a
while were out there, so we had a good time with it. I had a good
couple of games out there. It went as well as I could have expected it
"I think Luke, one way or the other, he's going to be in the league
for 10 years," emphasized Kerr. "I would love to have him on our team.
I think a lot of teams would love to have him."