BLOOMINGTON – Xavier wants him. K.J Walton knows that much. Indiana and Purdue are looking. He knows that, too.
As for the rest, that will come. Walton is a high-level guard with big-time hops who is growing into a must-see basketball prospect.
“He's had a really good spring,” Spiece Indy Heat coach Jim Reamer said. “He's able to make plays at the end above the rim.”
Walton can score. He does it for Spiece Indy Heat – see the 22 points he scored in Spiece's upset title game win over Indiana Elite in Sunday's adidas May Classic in Bloomington. He does it for his Brownsburg High School team. If he rebounds to his potential, Reamer said, look out.
“We've told him from Day One that when he rebounds, we win. It adds to the number of possessions we have in a game.”
It sounds simple, but when you're dealing with the teenage brain, nothing is simple. Still, Walton gets the message. He's a 6-3, 180-pound sophomore shooting guard who plays hard and wants to improve. So Reamer pushes the rebound point. So does new Brownsburg coach Steve Lynch.
“He plays above the rim, not just offensively with dunks and things like that, but going up high and getting rebounds,” Reamer said. “That's important. That's what we need to win.”
Xavier is the only school to offer Walton. In fact, he has the only offer on the Spiece team, even though it includes two other potential high-major prospects in guard Bronson Kessinger and center Derrik Smits.
“A lot of coaches are calling me,” Reamer said. “Some of that might change June 15 when they can start calling the kids. Coaches get a little more serious when they can start calling players.”
Interest for all three players comes from IU, Purdue, Butler, Xavier, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Illinois. Walton is set to go to Michigan's elite camp next month.
Most of IU's recruiting interest comes from associate head coach Tim Buckley, whose in-state recruiting connections run deep from his Ball State head coaching days. For instance, Brownsburg's Lynch once coached under Buckley at Ball State.
“I primarily speak with Coach Buckley,” Reamer said. “I try not to push the conversation. That way it's easier to gauge who is really interested. Coach Buckley is always inquisitive about all three, really.”
While the Hoosiers appear to be focused on out-of-state recruiting targets, it remains a moving target.
“I don't know where they are,” Reamer said. “I don't speculate on offers. I don't want to be wrong. They might change their minds. But at least they're in the conversation. That part of it motivates them to get better when they're home working individually. Hopefully it motivates them to do well at events like (the adidas May Classic).
Smits remains an intriguing prospect. He's the son of former Indiana Pacer Rik Smits. At 6-10, he has decent mobility and is learning to play at a faster, more physical pace.
“Even though there are sometimes when the game gets a little fast,” Reamer said, “Derrick is still an extremely good offensive option, and defensively he's just getting stronger.
“He's not a kid anymore who avoids contact. He seeks it out. It still affects him and it will continue to affect him until he starts growing into that tremendously long, tall body. He's 6-10 with a 7-2 wingspan.
“As he gets stronger he'll be really potent offensively. He's already got range. He can face the basket and score. As he gets better able to take contact more and not let it affect his shot, he's going to be an absolute terror to guard inside. His skill set and foot work are extremely good. You obviously have to give a lot of credit to his dad, and then his (Zionsville High School) coach really worked with him. We work with it. He's very much his dad's son.”