After his first season playing professional basketball overseas, Erving Walker hopes his next job is a little closer to home.
The Brownsville native, and former University of Florida star, is looking for a second chance to play in the NBA. Despite a strong showing with the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Summer League last season — where he averaged 5.0 points per game — the team didn’t pick him up.
Walker said the Suns former coaching staff told him there was a place in the league for him, just not with Phoenix. So he traveled to Italy to play for Prima Veroli, where he averaged 18.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Walker felt he learned from the experience and was encouraged to play the game the way he was comfortable.
“I think I did well,” Walker said. “I was passing a lot, trying to be a true point guard. The coaches said, ‘We know what you can do. We want you to be aggressive, be yourself’.”
It won’t be an easy climb back. After playing in the New York City streetball circuit this summer, including time with DDN/Sean Bell at the Hoops in the Sun tournament in the Bronx, Walker still hasn’t received an invite to play in this year’s NBA summer league. This means he may have to head overseas for a second straight year.
The 5-foot-8 point guard has been doubted multiple times in his career. He was never guaranteed playing time at Christ the King Regional High School, where he ended up winning a city title. And many wondered if he would ever see floor time at Florida. He helped take Florida to two Elite Eights, and left that school as its all-time assists leader (547) and its fourth all-time scorer with 1,777 points.
“He’s always proved the doubters wrong,” Sean Bell Coach Rah Wiggins said.
Walker says what makes him special is that he is a winning player who can adapt to any style. He can score and play up-tempo, or be a pass-first point guard in a more structured system like the one he ran with Prima Veroli.
His commitment to defense has really impressed Wiggins, but it’s nothing he wouldn’t expect from Walker.
“He’s just a winner,” Wiggins said. “He does whatever it takes to win.”
Now, Walker is just waiting to see if he will get the chance to do all those things in the NBA. All he can do is keep improving and keep waiting.
“All he has to do is stay in the gym and keep working hard,” Wiggins said. “Maybe his number is going to get called.”Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewsk