Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 | 2 a.m.
When it was reported that UNLV would be hosting Kyree Walker at Saturday’s home game against Fresno State as part of an unofficial visit, there was some concern among the fan base: With the Rebels drawing low attendance numbers at the Thomas & Mack Center all season, would the atmosphere be enough to entice an elite recruit like Walker?
It turns out, Walker liked what he saw.
The Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix) guard said the Rebels faithful — announced attendance of 8,324 — made an impression on him, despite Fresno State pulling away for an 83-65 win.
“The environment was great,” Walker said. “It was an early game so I didn’t expect so many people there. When [UNLV] was coming back I saw a lot of energy from the crowd. It felt like a great home court.”
Walker retweeted a photo of him standing on the court prior to the game:
Walker is currently rated as the No. 14 player in the Class of 2020. He is averaging 29.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game this season, and at 6-foot-6, 225 pounds he has the type of body to make an instant impact at the college level.
Walker initially pledged to Arizona State, but decommitted in October. He has reopened his recruitment, and he said UNLV first began contacting him three weeks ago, with head coach Marvin Menzies doing most of the talking.
“They came to one of my games, and I came to their game,” Walker said. “I think that’s a good thing. I live in Arizona so it’s not too far away. I got a chance to come to UNLV, sit down, watch the game and see a lot of new things.”
Walker said he has also taken an unofficial visit to Grand Canyon University. He said his recruitment is still wide open and that he hasn’t begun thinking about narrowing his choices.
There are rumors that Walker could reclassify to the Class of 2019 and be eligible to play as a college freshman as early as next season, but he said he has yet to consider that option.
“Not right now,” Walker said. “I know people are saying I’m up in the air [for 2019], but it’s not really up in the air. I’m not really thinking about it.”
UNLV could certainly use a player like Walker, whether it's in 2019 or 2020. The Rebels have a projected nucleus in place for those seasons that should include guards Amauri Hardy, Bryce Hamilton and Trey Woodbury and forwards Joel Ntambwe and Mbacke Diong. A talented wing scorer like Walker would appear to fit nicely into that group.
Expect Walker’s recruitment to heat up over the summer, when coaches get a chance to recruit him during live periods.
Walker said his goal for the summer circuit is to prove he should be at the top of every school's wish list.
“I want to show I’m the best player in the country, for sure,” Walker said. “People, they always try to nitpick some part of my game, so this year is all about me getting in the gym and making all the doubters into believers.”