The University of Miami basketball team landed one of its most highly-touted recruits in recent history on Wednesday when shooting guard Lonnie Walker announced he had chosen the Hurricanes over Arizona, Villanova, Syracuse and Kentucky.
Walker, 6-5, is from Reading, Pa., and is rated a Top 20 prospect in the Class of 2017 by most recruiting websites. He is rated No. 19 by ESPN, making him the highest-ranked UM signee since ESPN’s recruiting database began in 2007.
“First off, I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me through this long journey, but it’s time for me to take this next step and move on and commit to University of Miami,” he wrote on Twitter. “I feel like it’s the best for me, on and off the court and will make me a greater individual on the court. Thanks to all the schools that recruited me, but I’m officially a Cane #GoCanes”
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“Lonnie is not just a recruit, he is a great role model to kids in his hometown, a local celebrity because he is a great student, good person, and a smiley young man the little kids look up to,” said UM coach Jim Larrañaga. “He walks down the street there and kids ask for his autograph. He is the highest-ranked recruit I have ever signed as a head coach, and it’s a big day for Miami.”
Larrañaga praised assistant coach Adam Fisher for “his sensational daily efforts to keep Miami’s name out there when he was also being recruited by places like Kentucky and Arizona that you read about every day on the internet.”
Walker played in the same AAU program as Ja’Quan Newton and Davon Reed, and felt at home during his visit to Miami. Walker’s mother connected with Larrañaga’s wife, Liz, which the coach said also played into his decision. Two weeks ago, Larrañaga and his staff flew up to Reading in a private jet to make a last pitch. “We went four-deep, to show him how interested we were,” Larrañaga said.
He led the Reading High Red Knights to a 29-4 record and the state 4A state semifinals as a junior, averaging 16.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
On the Nike circuit last summer, Walker averaged 16.6 points and 40 percent shooting from three-point range, five rebounds and three assists. He is the fourth commitment in the 2017 Canes class, along with Denk Gak of New Jersey (rated 93rd) and Chris Lykes of Washington, D.C. (rated 52nd).
“He is a lights-out 3-point shooter, really fast and elevates well,” said Larrañaga. “He can dunk and also defend. He could play three positions with his versatility.”
Wednesday was the final day of the Fall early signing period.