As a freshman, Rondel Walker won’t get on the court playing like he’s grown used to.
Walker starred at Putnam City West High School in Oklahoma City. In high school, he was always one of the most skilled players on the court and thrived as a lead playmaker.
But at Oklahoma State, he joins a guard-heavy roster that’s already full of lead ball handlers.
Isaac Likekele and Avery Anderson are established veterans. Cade Cunningham will get more than enough time with the ball in his hands too.
Walker won’t be that guy off the bat, but he’s earning a spot on the court in a different way.
“The fastest way for a freshman, not named Cade Cunningham if we’re being honest, (to get on the court) is on the defensive end,” coach Mike Boynton said. “You’re not gonna be a primary playmaker for the most part as a freshman. You just don’t know what it takes. And (Walker) has embraced that.”
Standing at 6-foot-4 with long arms to go along with his quick-twitch athleticism, Walker has the potential to be an excellent defender if he continues to fill out his frame. Getting strong enough to hold up against more developed players is still a work in progress.
Still, if Boynton had to list his top three defenders on the team, Walker would make that list.
It’s an impressive declaration for a freshman still in the process or learning the ins-and-outs of what it takes to be a good individual and team defender at the college level.
“I established myself early on as one of our primary defenders,” Walker said. “I think that’ll keep me on the court. I see myself really being a 3-and-D type player. Make plays when they present themself. I feel like that’ll take me a long way.”
Fellow point guards Likekele and Anderson have shown they can be elite defenders, and they’ve helped Walker’s development. They’re great models to learn from on that end of the court.
Walker said the most important thing he’s learned from them is it’s the little things that make the biggest difference such as sliding into a quick sprint to help recovery and other small adjustments to make him quicker and faster.
“This isn’t high school anymore and every guy is just as fast and just as strong as you,” Walker said. “Every day we compete in practice. We always bring the best out of each other and the worst out of each other and we make our worst better.
“It brings a lot out of us that we didn’t think we had.”