By Joseph Staszewski
One of New York City’s top players is waiting for college coaches to figure out what everyone else has learned this year.
Benjamin Cardozo guard Aaron Walker is a Division I player and should start to be treated like one. The junior combo guard was without a single college scholarship offer despite continuing to excel on both ends of the floor until Manhattan was the first to give him one last weekend.
Walker, who came over from Archbishop Molloy, has taken his game to the next level. He’s been the X-factor for a team that is 21-1 and looking to defend its PSAL Class AA city title.
“Aaron is like the juggernaut on our team,” star junior guard Rashond Salnave said. “He just runs right through people.”
The 6-foot-2 Walker is coming off a 28-point performance while a little under the weather in a 72-60 win over borough rival Construction last week. He is averaging 15.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in league play and is arguably the best on ball defender in the city.
Walker takes pride in his defense and wants to guard the opponents’ best player. He has controlled Division I prospects Devonte Green of Long Island Lutheran, Rawle Alkins of Christ the King and Temple Gibbs of Seton Hall Prep.
“The hype around a whole lot of players, I’m not a hater, but I give credit where credit is due,” Salnave said. “He deserves a lot more credit that what he’s getting.”
While other players in the city are deservingly piling up offers, Walker, outside of Manhattan, has just interest from Georgia Tech, Seton Hall, Cincinnati, Minnesota and St. Francis Brooklyn. It should only be a matter of time before that changes, especially for mid-major schools.
“I think coaches recruit to rankings and not to what their eyes see,” said one Division I assistant coach who has seen Walker play on multiple occasions. “I expect the kid to really blow up. It’s one of those things — you’re not attractive until the quarterback starts dating you.”
Walker, who has an 87 average in school, is a player in every sense of the word, thanks to his smarts, strength and desire to win. He can attack the basket off the dribble, slam it home or finish strong even with contact. Walker can also consistently bury big 3-pointers.
His ability to be physical can seriously frustrate whoever he is told to guard. That player is usually a non-factor in the game. Walker can only go up from here.
“He still hasn’t come close to reaching his total potential,” Cardozo coach Ron Naclerio said.
The lack of offers has yet to bother Walker, who played AAU ball with Sports U last summer. Instead he has used it as motivation to help his team win and continually prove he is deserving of more attention and accolades.
“My freshman and sophomore year I wasn’t really known,” Walker said. “I just kept working.”
It’s slowly starting to pay off.