By Joseph Staszewski
For months, Aaron Walker didn’t have an answer to the question where he would be playing basketball next season in college. The scholarship offers came slow to the combo guard.
“A month ago and I didn’t have any schools, that was pretty annoying when people are asking where are you going to school.” Walker said. “I really had no idea. I can’t tell them.”
Manhattan College, which made him an offer a little over a year ago, was the only offer he had until a big January that brought ones from Canisius, Delaware and Siena, as well as interest from a host of other Division I schools. But the late comers couldn’t change what Manhattan’s loyalty meant to Walker, which was reinforced by head coach Steve Masiello attending some of Cardozo’s biggest games.
“They just wanted me, you know,” Walker said. “All the assistant coaches and the head coach, their eyes just lit up when they see me. I never really felt wanted before by schools.”
That feeling and a belief in how Masiello could improve his game was more than enough to convince Walker to commit to the Jaspers last week, just five days after his visit to Riverdale. The 6-foot-1 Walker was ready to do it on the spot, but took his father’s advice and waited to make sure he was certain he wanted to join the two-time defending MAAC champions.
“I felt like we were family already,” he said.” It was a great visit. I didn’t feel weird about anything. When I left I was ready to commit. I was ready.”
The Jaspers are getting one of the top all-around guards in New York City and a true defensive stopper. Walker averaged 19 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in PSAL play. He has buzzer beaters at Cardozo to beat rival Christ the King and then Boys & Girls in the second round of the playoffs.
Walker’s best performances of the year were in the two-game SNY Invitational. He had 20 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals—with Masiello courtside—in a 66-63 win over Christ the King in the final. Walker was named the tournament MVP and was grateful his future coach was there to watch.
“It meant a lot because he was the first coach to be that persistent,” he said of Masiello. “He was the head coach and he was showing up to all of my games. I just showed how much he wanted me.”
While Walker has been the answer for the Judges during their march to a PSAL Queens borough title and the top seed in the city playoffs, he now has an answer for everyone else—Manhattan.
“To have the opportunity to throw names out, it feels really great. I was just happy about everything. To know what I am doing after high school is a dream come true,” Walker said. “To know I’ll be playing Division I basketball.”