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June 16, 2008
Walker fulfilling his NBA dream
Bill Walker has opted to remain eligible for the 2008 NBA Draft and will forego his remaining three years of college eligibility.Kansas State freshman forward
Walker made the announcement on the final day underclassmen had to decide their intentions for the NBA Draft. He becomes the second Wildcat to declare for the NBA Draft, following fellow freshman teammate Michael Beasley who declared his intentions on April 14.
"Bill has always dreamed about playing in the NBA and now he is close to fulfilling that dream," said K-State coach Frank Martin. "We want to thank him for believing in K-State. He was one of the first players to buy into what were doing here and we will always be grateful. He gave us the confidence and the momentum to go out and start the process of building this program. He will forever be a Wildcat."
Most national observers predict Walker to be an early second round selection in the 2008 NBA Draft, as he is projected as the 31st pick (and first selection of second round) to the Minnesota Timberwolves by www.draftexpress.com and the 40th pick to the New Jersey Nets by www.nbadraft.net. Beasley and Walker could be the first set of Wildcat teammates to be selected in the same NBA Draft since 1982 when three players - Tyrone Adams (3rd round), Randy Reed (7th round) and Ed Nealy (8th) - were drafted.
Walker averaged 16.1 points on 46.5 percent shooting (181-of-389), including 30.7 percent (35-of-114) from 3-point range, with 6.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.5 blocks in 27.3 minutes per game this past season. He ranked second to Beasley in nearly every statistical category, including scoring, double-digit scoring (25), 20-point games (nine), double-doubles (four), rebounding, blocks, field goals, free throws (101) and free throw percentage (73.7). His averages were even higher in Big 12 play, where he averaged 16.6 points on 47.2 percent shooting with 6.1 rebounds in 27.6 minutes per game.
Walker earned numerous accolades after the 2007-08 season, including third team freshman All-America distinction from CBS Sports.com and CollegeHoops.net and freshman All-America honors from CollegeInsider.com. He was named to the All-Big 12 second team by the Kansas City Star, while he was a third team selection by both the league coaches and The Associated Press. He was also selected to several all-district squads, including the U.S Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) All-District VI team and to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District 12 second team.
Walker and company helped Kansas State post a 21-12 overall record in 2007-08, including a third-place finish in the Big 12 with a 10-6 mark. The Wildcats advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in nearly 12 years and captured its first NCAA Tournament win since 1988 with their 80-67 victory over USC in the first round of the Midwest Regional in Omaha, Neb., on March 20.
With Walker's departure, Kansas State will return seven lettermen for the 2008-09 season, including five with starting experience. Sophomore Jacob Pullen will be the team's top returning scorer at 9.7 points per game, while fellow sophomore Ron Anderson will be the returning rebounding leader at 3.6 boards per game. They will be joined by five newcomers, including junior transfer Denis Clemente and redshirt freshman Jamar Samuels. Three of these newcomers - Buchi Awaji, Jordan Henriquez and Abdul Herrera - were added during the spring signing period.
The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 26, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.