The University of Colorado men’s basketball team has been hunting for a big man along the recruiting trail to replace senior power forward Josh Scott next year. Earlier this week, they got one in seven-footer Dallas Walton from Arvada West High School.
The ESPN two-star recruit has some tricks up his sleeve. As a senior in high school, just 40 minutes outside of Boulder, he’s been averaging 16.8 points per game, 10.9 rebounds and 2.7 blocks.
Thanks to those numbers, recruiting has been picking up as of late for the big man, who’s gotten offers from Colorado, Denver, Brown, Wyoming and Middle Tennessee State, while also piquing the interest of Nebraska and Purdue.
After Colorado lost the race for Australian forward Harry Froling last month, who committed to Southern Methodist instead, the Buffaloes have rebounded nicely with a commit from this in-state product with impressive statistics.
If you simply look at Walton’s numbers though, you’re not getting the whole picture. Walton has not been playing 100 percent this year after coming back from two consecutive left ACL tears and surgeries. In an interview with Rivals.com, Walton said he believes he’s playing at around 70 or 80 percent these days.
In lieu of that knowledge, the two stars may be a bit underrated for the big man.
Walton began his training with former University of Denver assistant coach Marcus Mason through Mason’s elite basketball camp in Parker, Colorado: Nothing But Net. Although Walton’s size proved to benefit him on defense early on, he still had work to do in other areas.
“He was very, very raw as a seventh grader,” Mason said. “He had good legs, he had good athleticism, he was a solid defender but offensively, I felt like he was very limited.”
A year later, Walton joined the Chauncey Billups Elite Basketball Academy, where Mason also coaches. There, a new set of coaches helped him fine-tune the offensive side of his game and sharpen his defensive skills.
But due to his recurring injury midway through his high school career, Walton has been playing with less ferocity than before as he works back into his old comfort zone.
“I think that’s human nature,” Mason said. “I think what Dallas is going through right now is the mental side of tearing that ACL twice, but I can say that he has definitely grown since he was cleared in October to play. He’s been better every week.”
Because Chauncey’s younger brother Rodney serves as assistant coach for the Buffaloes, the familial relationship undoubtedly may have played a strong role in Walton’s decision to verbally commit to CU after spending the past five years training under big brother.
In somewhat of an outdated ESPN scouting report that was last revised in August, one analyst described Walton as being an asset on the court in the following ways:
“Walton has many of the physical tools (long arms, bouncy) scouts look for in a potentially high-level recruit. He has a rangy frame with great length and he is quick off the floor. He has soft hands, good feet, and he pursues the ball the ball at both ends whether via shot blocking or rebounding. He handed out some high-level passes in the half court set and showed an IQ for this game.”
Since that scouting report was last updated, however, Walton has grown five inches, gained 30 pounds and no longer plays for Ralston Valley, where he spent his first two years before transferring to A-West, just before his two knee injuries.
The scouting report also noted that the now-215-pound big man needs to put on some weight before becoming a real college threat but don’t worry, that’s what strength and conditioning coach James Hardy is here for.
Because of this, Mason believes Walton will prove to be a valuable asset to the Buffaloes in due time.
“I think the obvious is his size, being a true seven-footer with a really, really long wingspan; so I think his size, his athleticism and his ability to step out and shoot the three ball and to make free throws,” Mason said.
But perhaps he won’t make as big of an impact early on, namely due to the limited knee movement and continued recovery.
“I’m not sure. Two years ago I would say a definite yes. I think he’s still trying to gain some confidence in his knee just for his lateral movement. I think the fours in that league, they’re athletic, they’re bouncy, they have great agility,” Mason said. “So I think a year from now, I would say yes, I would give you a strong yes.”
The million-dollar question, however, is if he’ll be able to replace Colorado star power forward Josh Scott, who will be graduating at the end of this season.
“Josh Scott is a great player, so no, I don’t think he will be Josh Scott a year from now, but I think that if he continues to work hard and under the guidance of a great coach like Tad Boyle, I think he could eventually grow into that type of player.
“With that being said, Dallas and Josh Scott are different players. I’m confident of Dallas shooting trail-threes in the Pac-12 and picking and popping, being in the screen and roll game with Derrick White and really providing an option of the guy that can space the floor, whereas Josh is more of a block-to-block kind of player.”
White, a redshirt transfer from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, also trained under Mason and Chauncey Billups, meaning that we may see some chemistry from him and Walton early on next year.
But only time will tell, as Walton still has until April 13 to officially sign his national letter of intent. If the big man pulls through for Colorado, this recruit could be a huge grab for the Buffaloes, both literally and figuratively.