Kyree Walker, star sophomore on the Hillcrest Prep basketball team, does everything to the max. Whether it’s running the simplest of drills, to orchestrating plays in a high intensity intra-squad scrimmage, Walker does it all with a fervent passion.
This passion, combined with his otherworldly athleticism and high basketball I.Q. have transformed Walker into one of the best high school prospects in the country. In the latest ESPN class of 2020 rankings, Walker is listed as the No. 14 player in his class. For him, that’s thirteen spots too low.
“They’re trying to rob me,” Walker said with a jovial grin. “This year they’re going to see, I’m coming back for my title as the number one player. I’m ready to become another monster.”
The title Walker is referring to is MaxPreps Freshman of the Year, an accolade he earned while playing for Moreau Catholic High in Hayward, California. Walker averaged 21.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists as a freshman, carrying the team to a 25-10 record en route to a spot in the California Division II title game.
After his freshman season, Walker and his family decided it was time for a change, and moved to Arizona to team up with more elite level prospects at Hillcrest Prep.
“Some people thought I was scared,” Walker said. “But coming to a prep school is all about starting a new life. This is a new life move.”
When watching Hillcrest play, it becomes quickly apparent that Walker is the most talented and important player on a loaded squad that looks to reassert itself as one of the best teams in the country. He’s also the youngest player on the team, yet makes no qualms about his role as leader.
“I have to be a leader on this team, I mean that’s my role,” said Walker. “My coaches told me it doesn’t matter if you’re the youngest you have to lead by example. Be here early, work hard, and push everybody.”
It’s easy to forget he’s still a sophomore. He is so naturally talented, and plays the game with a fluidity usually reserved for men twice his age. He can score with ease, but seems to find true pleasure in setting up his teammates up for easy baskets. Fittingly, when asked what NBA player Kyree is most similar to, his father and assistant coach Khari Walker compared his son to one of the best to ever play the game.
“Magic Johnson,” Khari Walker said. “He’s that level playmaker. For [Kyree] it seems like the speed of the game really slows down as he gets going.”
Walker’s unique brand of basketball has him ideally suited for his next endeavor, college basketball. Although he is only a sophomore, Walker has already committed to Arizona State and the pressure of becoming the next great Sun Devil looms large.
“I’m not scared,” Walker confidently said. “Committing to ASU so early, I’m talking to the coaches already and they’re teaching me new things. I’m also communicating with some of the players on the team and they’re helping me out. [Head Coach] Bobby Hurley is a great coach, he went to Duke and was able to play with a lot of great players. He’s a player-coach. He’s going to be able to teach me some things that Coach Krzyzewski taught him. I really just want to pick his mind and learn about the point guard position.”
The fact that Walker will be able to be around Hurley and his staff for the next three years before even enrolling at ASU will unquestionably improve his game and make his transition to college significantly easier.
“I think it’s great for him to stay so close,” said Hillcrest head coach Howard Thomas. “ASU is able to get eyes on him all the time so they’re coming down here all the time to come watch us. For him, he can build up a really good rapport with their staff which I think for any kid is huge.”
While Walker won’t officially enroll at ASU until the fall of 2019, the belief that he could revitalize the program is already widely held. His future coach is certainly a believer.
“Coach Hurley told me we’re going to play around you, start a team around you,” said Walker. “That sounded really good to me, and I know that when the time comes, I’ll be ready.”