It feels like just yesterday that we were eager to see our acclaimed freshman from Reading, PA take the court. Now, he is gearing up for his next step, the NBA Draft. HoopsHype (USA Today Sports) caught up with Lonnie to see how the pre-draft process was going. You can read the full article here, but for now, let’s look at the greatest hits from their conversation:
Lonnie believes he can be a franchise player
While most NBA-caliber players rarely lack confidence, Lonnie’s answer to what his potential could be felt thought out and sincere. He understands that he has work to do improving his game (11 points per game doesn’t exactly scream franchise player), he has also shown flashes of brilliance. He also talked about how he loves devoting 100% of his time to basketball right now, so it appears he’s headed in the right direction.
Lonnie may become a better player, but he’ll still be the same old Lonnie
HoopsHype asked Walker “Has it hit you yet that you’re going to be in the NBA soon?” and Lonnie’s response was “It will when I sit down with my father and my mom...it’ll get really emotional because things like this don’t happen often.” When we were first introduced to the freshman, he often mentioned the influence his mother had on making it thus far, how she pushed him to value education and stay dedicated to his craft. Stay real Lonnie.
He’s a big Ray Allen fan
This should lots of people in Miami happy, as Ray Allen is etched in Miami Heat lore after hitting one of the biggest shots in NBA Finals history back in 2013. Lonnie mentioned the NBA all-time three-point leader multiple times, first when asked what players he studies, and again when asked what players he resembles. I could see the comparison, and if Lonnie ends up having a similar career, he did pretty well for himself.
Ballhandling is his self-diagnosed weakness
“My ballhandling is, by far, what I’ve been working on the most. Ballhandling and working on my left hand too; it’s not as strong as my right hand, so we have to get it up there. I want my weaknesses to become strengths, so I’m working on my handles and left hand day in and day out when we’re in the gym.”
Lonnie wasn’t a horrendous ballhandler during his time in Miami, but he wasn’t going to carve up NBA defenses either. Thinking of his athletic talent with the ability to navigate through the teeth of a defense sounds like a franchise player to me.
Lonnie doesn’t read mock drafts
There’s a larger commentary to be had here. Are mock drafts worth our time? Should we just wait until the draft happens and then talk about it? Of course not, but it’s probably wise for someone entering the draft to not read those things (He probably has someone to do that for him now) Depending on his interviews and combine performance, he could move up or down the board. Wherever he ends up, that team will get a high-flying 3 and D wing with tons of potential.
Lonnie Walker IV had a solid season in Coral Gables, but it was always a foregone conclusion that he would be playing in the Association sooner rather than later. While we’ll definitely miss our beloved Skywalker, we should all be rooting for his success at the next level, not only for Lonnie’s sake, but also for the sake of the Canes Hoops program.