What Derrick Walker Can Bring to Nebraska Basketball
Photo Credit: James Wooldridge

What Derrick Walker Can Bring to Nebraska Basketball

May 26, 2019

Now that the dust has settled, it appears Fred Hoiberg is bringing in 11 new players for his first season as Nebraska’s head coach.

Five of those players have already played at the Division I level, giving us a better idea of what they’re going to bring to the program as opposed to the players coming out of high school or junior college (or out of France, in Yvan Ouedraogo’s case). With that in mind, Hail Varsity is going to take a look at each of those newcomers through the prism of their statistical profile courtesy of SynergySports Technology. 

So far, we’ve broken down the strengths and weaknesses of the three transfers who will have eligibility for this season — Shamiel Stevenson, Matej Kavas and Haanif Cheatham — as well as Dalano Banton, who will sit out the 2019-20 season. Today we wrap things up with Nebraska’s other sit-out transfer, former Tennessee forward Derrick Walker.

The 6-foot-8, 235-pound post spent two seasons in Knoxville playing off the bench behind the likes of two-time SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield and Kyle Alexander. As a freshman, Walker played 8.8 minutes per game off the bench, chipping in 1.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. He converted nearly 60 percent of his field goals but made just 10 of his 25 free throws.

As a sophomore, however, Walker saw his role reduced down to 5.3 minutes per game in 30 games. He scored 25 points and grabbed 32 rebounds all season. Despite Williams and Schofield departing, Walker decided to look for a different situation and found the one he wanted in Lincoln.

Walker fits the mold of the other frontcourt players Hoiberg landed in his 2019 class in Yvan Ouedraogo and Kevin Cross — big bodies who can clean the glass. Offensively, well… he’s got a ways to go.

Last season, he used just 35 possessions in 30 games and scored just 25 points (0.714 PPP, 16th percentile, “below average”). This sample size is way too small to draw any real conclusions, but I’ll list them anyway.

He scored seven points on nine Cut possessions, shooting 2-of-4 with three shooting fouls and two turnovers. For Walker, it appears most of these shots were on dump-offs around the rim. He scored six points on eight Post-Up possessions, shooting 3-of-6 with one turnover and one trip to the free-throw line (where he came up empty). He had six Put-Back possessions and scored seven points, shooting 3-of-5 with one shooting foul. He got the ball one time as the Pick-and-Roll Roll Man and scored and he had one possession off a screen, missing the shot.

In the halfcourt, he shot 3-of-6 in the post and 6-of-10 on all other shots around the rim, including one three-point play. He took one jumper, which he missed.

There’s a little more substance to his freshman season, though the results were similar. He scored 66 points on 82 possessions (0.805 PPP, 31st percentile, “average”). 

Cut was still his most common play type with 27 possessions which he converted into 25 points (0.926 PPP, 20th percentile, “below average”). He shot 11-of-15 with six shooting fouls, but he only hit half those free throws and turned the ball over six times.

He wasn’t bad in the post, scoring 18 points on 22 possessions (0.818 PPP, 52nd percentile, “good”). He shot 9-of-17 (52.9 percent) and turned the ball over four times. All of his shot attempts came when he was singled in the post, and he was particularly good on the left block turning over his right shoulder, hitting all four of his shits in that situation (again, super-small sample size here). He also passed out of the post to shooters eight times for eight points, turning it over once.

Walker was a solid offensive-rebounder by percentage as a freshman, but he struggled converting those into points. On 15 put-back possessions, Walker scored just 12 points (0.8 PPP, 11th percentile, “poor”), shooting 4-of-10 with three shooting fouls and two turnovers.

He was used as the Pick-and-Roll Roll Man three times, shooting 1-of-2 with a shooting foul, splitting those free throws. He scored on his only Isolation position and also scored on his only spot-up possession.

In the halfcourt, he shot 9-of-17 in the post (1.059 PPP, 71st percentile, “very good”) and 18-of-28 on all other shots at the rim (1.286 PPP, 78th percentile, “very god”). Again, he missed his only jumper. When Walker got up a shot attempt, good things usually happened for the Volunteers. He just gave the ball away on over  quarter of his possessions.

Walker had just five transition possessions in two years, shooting 2-of-4 with a turnover. 

For the most part, Walker was an afterthought in Tennessee’s offense. If he wasn’t catching dump-offs, posting up or grabbing an offensive rebound, he didn’t touch the ball. He shows no semblance of a jump shot and struggles mightily from the foul line. Based on the little I’ve seen of Yvan Ouedraogo, he seems to be a similar prospect to Walker, so if young Frenchman can carve out a role as a freshman it might give us a hint as to how Hoiberg sees Walker fitting in after his redshirt. 

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