Billy Gillispie has his eye on several point guards in the 2009 and 2010 classes. One of these…
A Play for A.J.
Walton (6-1, 180), who was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Arkansas as a junior last season by one publication, is a prime 2009 recruiting target for the Razorbacks and head coach John Pelphrey.
"Arkansas has made a really good impression on me," Walton said. "They have showed that they really, really want me. Coach Pelphrey has been at every one of my games. Him being the head coach and coming to every one of my games, showing me that he really wants me - when some of the other schools head coaches have not been there - and how much he wants me to me a part of a family really has me excited."
Walton, an Arkansas Wings AAU standout who has his decision down to Arkansas, Baylor, Kentucky and Marquette, says that Pelphrey has his sales pitch down.
"He really hasn't talked to me about any other guards, he's just talked to me about how he wants me to come here and be THE guard," Walton said.
Walton, who averaged 12.6 points, 7.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 3.8 steals while leading Hall to the Class 6A state title last season, will likely have a decision announced before school starts.
"I am probably still going to do my commitment before school starts," Walton said. "I just need to get home first and talk to my dad and we can come to a conclusion on where I will be going."
Baylor is on the verge of getting a commitment from the nation's top point guard in 6-4 John Wall, a player that Walton has become friends with over the last year.
"John Wall and I are real cool," Walton said. "We were texting each other yesterday. He said that he hasn't committed yet. He said that his (AAU) coach has gotten a job there and that's why everybody thinks he is going to commit there.
"We got to play with each other at Baylor's camp and it was a nice little duo," Walton said. "I wouldn't mind playing with him. He wants me to come down there and Baylor's coaches still tell me I am number one on their list."
Walton is also very aware of the players Arkansas has landed and he could be surrounded by.
"They have a lot of potential," Walton said. "Patrick Beverely – he's a great player, a team leader and a floor general. He's the kind of player I want to be. And you have great players coming in like (Courtney) Fortson. They are going to be good to go."
Walton has gotten a lot of advice from fans in state about where he should play his college basketball.
"It not so much from the grown ups, but from my peers," Walton said. "They see me or come up to me at work and say ‘you should go to Arkansas. We really need you.' When grown-ups see me they said "Are you A.J. Walton? Go to Arkansas. We need a guard like you.'"
It would have been real easy for Walton, who is coming off a standout performance in a pair of tournaments in Orlando, to have skipped this camp after a tiring month of July.
He and fellow Arkansas recruit Marshawn Powell (6-8, 225) - a power forward from Virginia – actually flew from Orlando on Friday – a trip that saw them diverted to Cincinnati and Tulsa before finally landing in Northwest Arkansas.
"We have been going at it all summer, but anything I can do to get better, I want to take advantage of," Walton said. "I wanted to come up here and be a part of this."
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