Basketball, Cover, Sports

Lonnie Walker IV announces he will turn professional

Lonnie Walker IV

Freshman Lonnie Walker IV skies for the layup that would tie the game against Louisville and send it to overtime Jan. 24 at the Watsco Center. Walker would go on to score 25 points and lead the Miami Hurricanes to a 78-75 win over the Cardinals. Photo credit: Josh White

People were saying it since he committed to play at the University of Miami, and now it has happened. To no one’s surprise, Lonnie Walker IV is officially a one-and-done college basketball player.

The freshman from Reading, Pennsylvania, announced his decision on social media late Wednesday, April 4, afternoon that he is declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft and will hire an agent – meaning that his career as a Miami Hurricane is over.

His tweet was captioned with the words, “Just a kid from Reading,” and his message was titled “Next Chapter.”

“I thank the coaching staff and teammates for helping me enhance my skills on the court, but also challenging me off the court to be the best person I can be,” he said in his message announcing the decision. “I want to thank my family for the sacrifices they’ve made throughout the years. Without my family, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

Walker, who stands 6 feet 5 and weighs 204 pounds, is projected to be a first-round pick in the draft, and in many mock drafts, he is expected to be a lottery pick – one of the top 14 selections. In his first and only season at Miami, he showed NBA scoring potential, averaging 11.5 points to lead the team and recording three 20-plus point games as well as 18 games scoring in double digits.

“My staff and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach Lonnie Walker this season,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “We have tremendous confidence in him and believe he is going to be a terrific NBA player. Whichever organization drafts him will have a gem on their hands. He is as classy a young man as I’ve ever had the privilege to coach. We wish him nothing but the best. He will always be a part of our Miami family and program.”

Larrañaga continued to say that Walker’s “size, athletic ability and skill make him an ideal shooting guard but with the strong potential to be able to play both the 1 and the 2 at the NBA level.”

Walker came to UM as a 2017 McDonald’s All-American and a consensus five-star recruit. He ranked as a top-20 high school player in the country by most scouting reports. His career as a Hurricane was put on hold in summer training when he tore the meniscus in his right knee in July 2017 and had to have surgery. He didn’t return to basketball related activities until October, and many media and fans alike attributed this to his slow start to the season.

The high-flying guard played in all 32 games during the 2017-18 season – he started in 18 of them – and saved his best performances for conference play, where he averaged 13.6 points per game while shooting 41 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range.

Walker was a three-time ACC Rookie of the Week winner and set freshman records. He scored 368 total points, which ranks second most by a Canes first-year player since the team joined the ACC prior to the 2004-05 season. His 25-point game against Louisville and his 23-point game against Florida State are two of the best six scoring performances by a Miami freshman since the team joined the conference.

He earned Honorable Mention All-ACC honors and made the ACC All-Freshman Team.

“The University of Miami exceeded my expectations,” Walker said. “From school, sports, the environment and, last but not least, the Canes fans. This city has welcomed me with open arms and supported me at my lowest of lows but also my highest of highs. I made friends and memories that will last a lifetime and can’t thank anyone but the man above for giving me such an amazing experience.”

Walker helped lead UM to a 22-10 overall record and an 11-7 conference record. This led to a No. 3 seed in the ACC Tournament and a NCAA Tournament berth for the third-straight season.

Walker is the third Miami Hurricane to declare for the draft in the past two weeks. Sophomores Bruce Brown Jr. and Dewan Huell both made their decisions to potentially go pro, too, however neither of them have yet hired an agent, leaving their college eligibility intact if they choose to return to school.

The NBA Draft will be held in Brooklyn, New York, on June 21.

April 4, 2018

Reporters

Isaiah Kim-Martinez

Isaiah Kim-Martinez can be reached on Twitter at @isaiah_km.


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.