Baylor’s Ja’Kobe Walter ready for NBA draft

Ja’Kobe Walter is a guard who played basketball for Baylor University. The five-star athlete committed to Baylor in June 2022 and was a member of the 2023 graduation class. The freshman had a good season, averaging 14.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and a 37.6 field goal percentage. Walter now heads to the 2024 NBA draft after having a successful freshman season for the bears.

The Big 12 Freshman of the Year has proven that he is a versatile off-ball perimeter threat during his first college season playing in a rough conference. Walter has great athleticism and length as a 6’5” height guard. He started every game his freshman year with Baylor, and he helped his team reach 24-11 (11-7 Big 12) record. The Bears earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and Walter helped make that happen by living up to his hype as a five-star prospect in the Class of 2023.

The Big 12 is veteran-oriented, and Walter led Baylor in scoring at 14.5 points per game at just 19 years old. Walter reached double figures 26 times in scoring. Walter’s outstanding freshman season set him up to follow in the footsteps of first-round picks under coach Scott Drew. He certainly has all the tools necessary to play in the NBA.
Walter has areas to improve in, such as his shot selection and building the strength necessary to finish through contact. The way he looks and plays, you would think that he is bigger than 6’5”.

He is an all-around player who can score at all three levels, and his motor skills display potential to become a high-level defender. Right now, in the 2024 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings, Walter is placed at No. 18.

At Baylor University, basketball head coach Scott Drew has built a program as a legitimate
passage to the NBA. Walter is the latest example set by the Bears, showing that they help young prospects reach their goal of becoming a professional. The way the Baylor basketball program is set up alongside the skill set Walter has, Coach Drew knew that it is a possibility Walter would be there playing for one year. Baylor is even replacing Walter with five-star shooting guard VJ Edgecombe, the No. 5 overall player in his class.

Walter should improve on the development of his untapped defensive versatility. He is not
always agile, although he has a chiseled and long body build. He can run the floor with powerful long strides and has evolved as a tough shot maker off the dribble. He likes looking for his pull-up shot, both from mid-range and behind the three-point line.

Walter could have been one of those stars who is only concerned about his success, and just
coast through his freshman year of basketball season. That is not the case at all, because Walter is a fighter for his team. “I never looked ahead,” said Walter. “I always just wanted to be in the moment.”

The last game Baylor played was against Clemson, which they lost 72-64. The Bears run ended in the round of 32 for the third straight year in the NCAA Tournament. Walter had dropped to his knees out of disappointment because that was the last game of the season for the Bears. Every game Walter left everything he had out there for his teammates, and he really wanted to get a championship for Baylor University and contribute something special to that Baylor community.

What Walter did after facing a season loss was incredibly special. After the game, his mission
was to find every teammate, Coach, and staff member, and give them a long embrace. He made his comments and hugs with each person personally after the game, based on the relationships he had with each person. Walter was so emotional that he was fighting back tears in the postgame media room where he faced a room full of reporters.

Sometimes Walter’s gameplay gets compared to Reggie Bullock. He reacts based on what the defense gives him and can make a great decision from it. He knows when to drive to the rim or to dial it back to the three-point line and shoot it. He has a nice floater that he is developing as well.

He has a weakness when operating the pick and roll, as it looks rugged. His fundamentals and awareness’s on his defensive end could use some improvement as well. He is not known for being a great above the rim finisher, and sometimes struggles driving to the basket. He could also pass the ball a little more too, and something like that is amazingly simple fundamentals he can improve on.

Overall, Ja’Kobe Walter is a sensational athlete who has the talent necessary for the NBA. He
can excel in his game in the NBA, and he is the type of player any coach could want. His
mindset really separates him from other players and his emotional reactions to when he does not win is beautiful because it shows how he cares for the game and his teammates. He believes everything and everyone working in the organization he plays for all has the same significance in reaching the final goal which is to win.

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