As we keep cranking out the top returning players to the ACC, we have arrived at our first repeat customer from last season, Florida State wing MJ Walker.
Walker was #17 on last season’s list, and while he didn’t necessarily meet expectations, you can still see that he is loaded with upside. He moved from a bench role in 2017-18 to full time starter in 2018-19 and saw his minutes increase by nearly 28%, yet his counting statistics saw only minimal improvement. During his sophomore season, the former McDonald’s All American saw his field goal percentage, three point percentage, and offensive rating all regress. However, even after a disappointing season, I am undeterred. The bottom line is that the kid is talented, he has above average athleticism, and he can shoot the ball.
Did I mention he can also rise to the occasion?
In his first 70 games as a Seminole, Walker has logged 21 double digit scoring games. Florida State is 18-3 in those games, including 8-2 in ACC games. Like many young players, he plays significantly better within the friendly confines where he shoots it from deep, two, and at the line at a much better clip. The bane of his career has actually been on neutral courts (early season tourneys, conference tourneys), where he averages only 5.0 points, while shooting 29% from the field and 28% from deep.
This season will be a changing of the guard for Florida State as Fi Kabengele, Terance Mann, Phil Cofer, PJ Savoy, JMCK, and David Nichols have all moved on. This team now belongs to Walker, Trent Forrest (stay tuned),and RaiQuan Gray while FSU welcomes a half dozen newcomers. In order for this team to finish in the top six in the ACC and get back to the dance, MJ Walker needs to score the basketball.
This selection could prove to make me look foolish or brilliant as Walker could end up being one of the premier players in the ACC, or just a nice roll player as he has shown thus far. His performance last season while surrounded by some high level talent could have had me a bit sheepish, but I am a believer. MJ was the #24 player in the 2017 recruiting class, I am not ready to write him off yet. Breakout seasons occur when talent meets opportunity and that is what we have here.