clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Happy Homecoming in Reading for Lonnie Walker as Canes beat La Salle 57-46

“Lonnie is like a celebrity in the town”

Lonnie Walker signs autographs for young fans in Reading, PA. Walker is a local celebrity in his hometown.
Christopher Stock, 247Sports

“I’m back,” Walker told WFMV, a local Pennsylvania TV station, “It’s a lot colder, but it’s great to be back.”

Back in April, the basketball programs at the University of Miami and La Salle University agreed to play a neutral-site game in Reading, PA, hometown of then five-star prospect Lonnie Walker, a UM signee.

“During the recruiting process, it was very clear to us that Lonnie had a unique relationship with the people in Reading,” said Coach Jim Larranaga after the team’s recent win over Florida A&M. “During one of our visits, Lonnie asked us to meet his grandmother and grandfather. It was very clear that they were not going to be able to travel to Miami, or maybe to even Philadelphia. So we told Lonnie, if he ends up deciding to come to the University of Miami, we will bring our program to Reading.”

The Hurricanes were the home team on Wednesday night, despite being just 45 minutes from the La Salle campus when the ball tipped of in the Santander Arena in Reading.

The first half was closely contested, as the two teams went into the halftime break tied at 19.

The Canes weren’t able to create seperation until the 2nd half was well underway, going on an 18-6 run from the 9:42 mark to the 2:57 mark.

Miami held on to win 57-46.

But for many, the game represents something beyond basketball.

“It’s a blessing. I’m very excited, not only for myself but the city of Reading because I know how he loved his city,” Herbert Walker, Lonnie’s grandfather, told WFMV.

The town was buzzing for the return of Walker, who led Reading High to its first state championship in the Pennsylvania school’s century-long history.

“Lonnie is like a celebrity in the town,” said Larranaga, “When he’d leave practices there would be kids wanting his autograph, adults there wanting to take his picture with him.”

Hurricane Hysteria swept through Reading. In anticipation of the big game, Tim Kistler of Schuylkill Valley Sports bulk ordered Canes gear for his store. He even went through Adidas to make sure he had enough gear to go around the town.

The team will get a short break for the holiday, but will be faced with the toughest test of the season on November 29th, as they travel to the Twin Cities to take on the 14th ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge