8. Jarace Walker, F, Houston
Big Board 3.0 rank: 6
The more you watch Walker and imagine his fit and role in the NBA, the more enticing of a prospect he becomes.
Walker is 6-foot-8, 240 pounds, and has a 7-foot-2 wingspan at 19 years old. When scouts talk about a prospect with a “grown man’s body,” they’re talking about someone like Walker.
His strength, length, size, athleticism, and activity make him a defensive menace. In his draft guide, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer refers to Walker as, “a versatile wrecking ball on defense.”
Walker is strong and compact, but he can move his feet well enough and has the defensive instincts to stick with players of multiple sizes and skill levels. He also has a high defensive IQ; he knows when to help and how to force opponent ballhandlers where they don’t want to go.
Offensively, there’s a lot more to Walker’s game than he was able to show at Houston. He has a little Zion Williamson in him in terms of skill set. He’s slighter and not as explosive, but his touch around the rim is excellent and his IQ translates from the defensive end with the way he sees the floor as an excellent playmaker.
Walker is a decent ballhandler, and his strength allows him to barrel through defenders near the basket, especially when he’s the roll man off pick-and-roll action. He did shoot better than 34 percent from three on almost three attempts per game with the Cougars, so there might be even more untapped offensive potential in there.