After a rocky start to the Bullis boys’ basketball season, Coach Bruce Kelley changed the starting lineup last month.
Walker, a Clarksburg transfer who sat out last season as he reclassified, joined the Bulldogs with major recruiting buzz and little experience coming off the bench, but Kelley said the center never complained about the move.
In Saturday’s 63-44 win over Arundel, Walker showcased the benefits of his new role.
He finished with a season-high 17 points and 11 rebounds as Bullis took the public-private matchup in Gambrills for its 10th straight victory.
“It’s a different role, so it’s fun,” said Walker, who entered the day averaging 6.4 points. “It’s kind of a new thing: How much can I bring to the team coming off the bench?”
Walker didn’t enter until midway through the first quarter against Arundel, but he quickly made his presence felt in a back-and-forth opening half, managing a putback on his first offensive trip.
Bullis (15-4) did not lead by more than three points in the first half with Arundel senior Ryan Hill scoring nine of his team-high 15 points before the break.
However, the Bulldogs eventually wore down the Wildcats (13-2) and pulled away with an 18-3 run out of the intermission.
Walker played less than two minutes in the second quarter because of foul trouble, but he provided a spark in the deciding burst with baskets on three straight possessions.
Two of those layups came off feeds from Holy Cross-bound senior Anthony Thompson, who had 17 points and six assists.
“We’ve found that [Walker is] better observing the action at the very beginning of the game,” Kelley said. “Sitting next to our coaches talking about the game, he sees how it’s going. He’s just really been much better in that role.”
Walker had already garnered significant Division I interest when he made the decision to transfer to the Potomac private school in September 2011.
Kelley said the center with a still developing offensive skill set continues to draw attention with DePaul, Temple and Delaware among the colleges who have offered him a scholarship.
But Kelley has been cautious to get too deep into the recruiting process just yet, turning down the chance to make unofficial visits while Walker works to get his school work in order.
Kelley said Walker’s academic eligibility with the NCAA will be determined based on his first four years of high school, meaning he’s entering his final semester to earn qualifying grades even though he has another year left at Bullis.
“The great part is Andre’s such an unassuming young man,” Kelley said. “He’s just thrilled to be a part of a team that’s thriving for a change.”