The last time Anthony Walker shared a court with his Indiana teammates, he was beating them in the NCAA Tournament wearing a Miami jersey.
One transfer portal entry later has found Walker, who is originally from Maryland, now wearing the cream and crimson himself in Bloomington. When we asked what drew him to Indiana, he had a quick answer:
“I would say Woodson,” Walker said. “Woodson and X. Obviously I’ve known X for a very long time, five years going on now. And Woodson is just a prestigious man, he is when it comes to the sport. So being able to be around him, pick his brain for a year and be coached by him is an opportunity I believe I couldn’t pass up.”
Walker comes from a basketball family and he’s known of Woodson for a while now, watching the teams he coached at the NBA level during his youth.
This upcoming season will be Walker’s fifth. During that time he’s seen the rise of Jim Larrañaga’s Miami to the highest levels of the sport. He knows what it takes to get there, and he’s bringing that knowledge to Bloomington.
His role on that Hurricanes roster was similar to the one he’ll step into in Bloomington: Leadership. With new talent like Nijel Pack on the team, the staff could rely on Walker to help them along on and off the court.
The same can be said for how Woodson and the staff see Walker.
“We have a lot of young guys that he’s [Woodson] bringing in and a lot of new guys including myself,” Walker said. “He needed someone that’s been to where he’s trying to go and he thought that was me, so I’m here to do that.”
Walker was among the most interesting conversations we had at Media Day, the fanbase is absolutely going to love the guy.
On the court
It’s no secret that experience has been a winning formula in college basketball as of late with the country full of fifth and six year players from COVID-19 eligibility. Indiana’s staff getting experience from a guy who was in last year’s Final Four at a position of need was huge.
Walker’s minutes peaked at 26.4 per game as a sophomore before slipping the following two years to 10.1 in 2022-23. He didn’t start, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a valuable presence off the bench.
He didn’t frequently see the court at the three during the Hurricanes’ March Madness run, coming off the bench at power forward while occasionally acting as an undersized five. When he got minutes, he was used on 16.5% of Miami’s offensive possessions.
His value lies in his experience and athleticism off the bench. Let’s dig into it.
Walker can score in a few different ways, though I wouldn’t expect shots from the arc to be much of a factor. He took 24 total threes as a senior at Miami last year, making three.
He’ll likely keep taking those shots with a big down low to clean them up to keep the defense honest. He has the speed and handles to attack a closeout and drive to the rim for a bucket.
If he gets the ball down low, off the catch or the bounce, he has the footwork and touch to get a basket in the post. With the Big Ten being a bit more of a physical league than the ACC, I’ll be curious to see how that translates.
Off the ball, Walker can cut to the basket and find gaps in the defense for open space.
Indiana’s priority going into the offseason was to get longer and more athletic as a whole, but particularly in the frontcourt. Gone are Race Thompson, Miller Kopp and Jordan Geronimo. Enter Walker, Kel’el Ware, Mackenzie Mgbako and rising sophomore Kaleb Banks.
That athleticism and length are especially vital on defense, there won’t be many players outside of Maryland and Michigan State who have what it takes to get past Walker on the defensive end of the ball.
He brings high-motor play off the bench like fellow portal addition Payton Sparks. Beyond being a vocal and experienced leader in the locker room, he’ll lead by example.
Look for Walker’s drive and play to make an impact on Indiana’s freshmen and sophomores. One of the reasons he’s here is to set the tone, where we believe he’ll excel.
Walker will likely be a vital depth piece for Indiana as the roster gels for the first few weeks of the season and down the stretch. Indiana has Final Four experience on the roster now, so look for others to follow his example.
It’ll be interesting to see Walker’s dynamic with Kaleb Banks, who has quite a few similarities to his game. His time here will be short, but Walker’s impact could be felt for years to come.