DeWinter Haven's Devon Walker Makes Signing With Gators Official
Fri. April 13, 2012 at 9:54 p.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
DEVON WALKER signed with Florida. (Photo by ERNST PETERS | THE LEDGER )
By BILL KEMP
LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
WINTER HAVEN | Devon Walker has the whole package and he's decided to take it to Gainesville.
The Winter Haven standout guard signed with the University of Florida on Friday and the Gators' basketball coaches couldn't be happier about his decision — or the timing — after losing a star freshman guard, Bradley Beal, to the NBA Draft earlier in the day.
"Especially with what transpired today with Brad, obviously making the decision to go to the NBA," Florida assistant coach Matt McCall said. "(However,) that decision has nothing to do with recruiting Devon. We've been recruiting him all year."
The Gators, who see Walker as a small forward or two-guard, were just one of dozens of schools that were vying for his services. Walker led the Blue Devils to the 2011-12 FHSAA Class 6A State Finals, before losing to eventual state champion Miami Norland in the semis, 46-37.
Walker had narrowed his selection down to Florida and the University of Alabama, giving the Gators the nod late this week.
"At the end of the day I just felt comfortable being at home, representing the state of Florida and playing for UF with Coach (Billy) Donovan," said Walker at Friday's WHHS signing ceremony.
Walker averaged 23.8 points and 10 rebounds per game this past season. But his more impressive numbers came at the free-throw line (78 percent) and in the classroom, finishing his prep academic career with a 4.1 GPA.
"When (college) coaches would come by, they'd say, ‘What's wrong with him?' And all we could say is sometimes he is too nice," Winter Haven head coach Tyrone Woodside said. "They'd say tell me what's wrong with him because he is too good to be true. But that's who he is."
Woodside said Walker could have scored 35 points per game this year had he not focused on making his team better.
The Gators were stunned by Walker and his non-stop work ethic during his visit to their team camp last summer.
"There was a game where his team was down six or eight with 20 seconds left. But he's still chasing balls with reckless abandon and getting to the rim. It just makes him stand out," said McCall.