Bill Walker is already on Tracy McGrady’s naughty list. But don’t expect the rookie to back down.
We caught up with Kansas State coach Frank Martin earlier today. Yes, he gushed about his former player (Martin said the 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward reminds him of a young Larry Johnson). But along with the superlatives came a few anecdotes that seem illustrate just how tough he is. Will he make the Celtics opening day roster? That’s unclear. If not, it won’t be for a lack of fire.
Martin remembers last year’s Big 12 opener at Oklahoma. Walker — one of seven freshmen Wildcats, including Michael Beasley — got up in front of his teammates and declared his intentions.
“We’re going to make this season a 16-round fight,” he said. “Today’s Round 1.”
He proceeded to score 22 points (8 of 11, 2 of 4 from 3-point land). K-State prevailed 84-82 on a Beasley bucket with 2.3 seconds left. The future No. 1 pick scored 32 points, but Walker’s performance stuck with Martin.
“He went out and had a hellacious game,” said the coach, who replaced Bob Huggins when he left for West Virginia. “He made every play to help us win.”
Martin also recalled an early season game in which Walker literally leapfrogged a defender.
“He jumped over a guy and spread his legs,” Martin said. “There’s a picture of his left hand palming the guy’s head as he jumps.”
Alas, he got called for a charge.
“He sure did,” Martin said with a laugh.
Sheesh. Did Grandmama ever do that?
Tip off tonight is at 7:30 p.m. in Pittsburgh. We’ll be back with an update — and a bit more from Martin on Walker — early tomorrow.