Earlier in the week, Pittsburgh Sports Now published an interview with Jamari Wheeler, a 3-star point guard set to join the Duquesne men’s basketball team in 2017. To continue our coverage of the Dukes’ promising 2017 recruiting class, we spoke with John Walker III Thursday night to get his thoughts on next year, approximately six months before he enrolls at Duquesne.
“Honestly, it’s a great feeling knowing that all the work I’ve put in all my life is starting to pay [off],” said Walker. “Also, to make my parents proud is something that I was happy I could do.”
Walker, a small forward from Missouri City, Texas, held offers from a few other schools, including nearby Houston. Thanks to the recruiting efforts of Duquesne’s coaching staff though, the university in Pittsburgh ended up feeling the most like home.
“Their recruitment with me was probably the most consistent from day one. Also, they seemed to have had a plan for me, from the athletics to the academics. [Duquesne] just felt like home.”
John, who stands at 6’8” 190-pounds, will join point guard Jamari Wheeler and forward Lewis Djonkam in Duquesne’s class of 2017. While he knows of Wheeler, it is Djonkam with whom he already holds a close relationship.
“Me and Big Lew talk all the time,” said Walker. “That’s my guy. I also went on my visit with him.”
Once on campus, Walker and the class of 2017 will play alongside breakout freshmen Mike Lewis II and Isiaha Mike. Together, the Dukes will feature a corps of talented youngsters that have John excited for the future.
“Yeah, those two (Lewis and Mike) are really getting to it, as well as the others,” he said. “I feel with our recruiting class, we have a chance to do something very special for Duquesne, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Walker’s contact with the Duquesne staff did not cease when he submitted his signed letter of intent. Per John, he speaks with assistant coach Danny Lawson “almost every day,” and head coach Jim Ferry “always checks in” on him. I asked John if, during his frequent conversations with his future coaches, they revealed the exact position or role he will hold for the Dukes.
“Not really,” he answered. “I know they’ll probably play me as a stretch 4, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m just gonna do whatever they need me to.”
Regardless of the position, and the duties assumed at that position, John believes he possesses the ability to fulfill any responsibilities placed upon him by Coach Ferry.
“I think I’m just a ‘give you what you need’ player. I can score from all three levels, and also make plays for others, and working on guarding all positions on the floor.”
Walker is currently enjoying a successful senior season at Fort Bend Marshall High School. The Buffalos hold a 24-7 record, ranking third in Texas’ 5A Region III District 23, per MaxPreps. I asked John if he could divulge how he thinks their 2016/2017 season is going.
“Great! I’m averaging almost double everything (statistically) from last year, and I’m hoping to lead my team to states.”
After his senior season, Walker intends upon “living in the weight room” and “tightening up [his] ball handling” in order to prepare for Atlantic-10 competition. While playing time as a freshman may be available for the Texan, he remains unsure if Coach Ferry intends on using him that early in his career.
“We haven’t really spoke about that, but I believe if I come working hard, Coach Ferry will give me a chance,” John said.
To conclude our conversation, I asked John if he had one message he would like to relay to Duquesne fans. With succinct confidence, he replied: “Duquesne is going to be on the map sooner than later.”
With the players Jim Ferry is recruiting to the Duquesne basketball program, John Walker’s prediction could very well come true.