The final – and most predictable – shoe has fallen.
University of Miami freshman guard Lonnie Walker IV officially declared for the 2018 NBA Draft Wednesday with the intent to hire an agent.
Walker, a former McDonald’s All-American, is the third UM hooper to put his name in the NBA’s draft hat – joining sophomores Bruce Brown Jr. and Dewan Huell. However, Brown (projected as a late first-round pick) and Huell (no projection) elected not to hire agents as to retain their ability to return to school.
Walker – projected as a lottery pick – announced his decision via social media.
Just a kid from Reading 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/fsJ2PGcdSB
— Bruce Lee 🤘🏾 (@lonniewalker_4) April 4, 2018
The 6-foot-5 guard was always seen as a “one and done” type player. He began to live up to that standard once UM entered ACC play – averaging 13.6 points per game, while shooting 41 percent from the field, 36 percent from 3-point range and 81 percent from the free-throw line over the final half of the year.
Miami hoops fans last view of Walker isn’t a great one though.
The last image of Walker in a Hurricanes uniform includes him committing a turnover and missing a free throw that left the door open for 11-seed Loyola-Chicago to make a last-second, game-winning shot propelling the Ramblers on a Cinderella run to the Final Four.
NBA scouts will throw Walker’s shortcomings out the window when evaluating him – looking only at his length, quickness and ability to take and knock down shots in crucial moments.
The Reading, Pennsylvania native had a strong freshman season at Miami – earning Honorable Mention All-ACC honors as well as a spot on the ACC All-Freshman Team.
He averaged a team-high 11.5 points as well as 2.6 rebounds while playing in all 32 games, including 18 starts.
Walker is the first freshman to lead the Hurricanes in scoring since Darius Rice during the 2000-01 season – joining Eric Brown (1985-86), Steven Edwards (1992-93) and Rice as freshmen that led the Hurricanes in scoring.
Walker was a three-time ACC Rookie of the Week honoree. His 25-point outing against Louisville and 23-point game against Florida State mark two of the top six scoring performances by a Miami freshman in 14 seasons of conference play in the ACC.
Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga was very complimentary of Walker.
“My staff and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach Lonnie Walker this season,” Larrañaga said in the school’s release.
“He’s an extremely mature and talented young man, both as a player and as a student. 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. Lonnie’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. 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.”