Thad Mumau's column runs over at Smartnewsnc.com, and he's nice enough to let us reprint it on DBR. Thanks Thad!Back in the â70s, there was a high school center out of Baltimore named Marvin Webster. He went on to play college basketball at Morgan State University and then spent 10 years in the pros.
He was taken by the Atlanta Hawks with the third pick in the first round of the 1975 NBA Draft. Webster never played with the Hawks because he went with Denver of the ABA, playing in that league one year before the Nuggets became part of the NBA.
Webster was a high draft pick, not because of his scoring ability, but because he was a tenacious rebounder and because of his propensity for blocking shots. The latter earned him one of the greatest hoops nicknames of all time â the Human Eraser.
I was reminded of the moniker by a recent performance by Wake Forest signee Ty Walker, who blocked an astounding 18 shots in Wilmington New Hanoverâs win over Greenville Rose.
Walker added 26 points and 14 rebounds for a triple-double as the Wildcats won, 64-40.
Triple-doubles are nothing new for the 7-foot-1 (actually just a tad under that), 220-pounder. He is AVERAGING a triple-double: 14 points, 11 boards and 13.5 blocks for the unbeaten (7-0) defending state 4-A champs.
Think about that rejection figure. Walker already has 95 this season. Stretch that out over a 30-game schedule, and he would still be averaging more than three blocks per game. And that would be impressive.
A lot of people may think if a kid is seven feet tall, he ought to block a ton of shots. But more than height is involved because there are plenty of 7-footers who do not reject many shots.
âTiming is the big thing with Ty,â New Hanover coach Frank McMillian said. âHe has amazing timing. And he blocks shots in a variety of ways â one-on-one by blocking his manâs shots, coming over from the weak side to help out and sometimes even going over a teammate to block his manâs shot. He gets a lot of hustle blocks.â
Lest you think Walker may be ready to head straight for the play-for-pay game, heâs not. He needs weight, strength and some offense.
âTy is way ahead on the defensive end,â McMillian said. âThere is no question about that. But he is making progress. Right now, the up-and-under is his best post move. We are working on a baby hook, and he has a fairly good one. But he doesnât have enough confidence in it to use it much in a game.
âHe can also step out from the basket and shoot a jump shot. He has a real nice touch and is accurate out to 15 feet. He makes around 80 percent of his free throws.
âAnd he has gotten bigger,â McMillian said. âTy has put on about 20 pounds since the end of last school year. He has done that mainly through work in the weight room.
âHe has improved since last year. He is a little more aggressive, heâs not as skinny and he is blocking shots better. He is so good at that, itâs almost a surprise when he doesnât block one.
âAnd there is no telling how many shots he changes and how many times his presence scares opponents out of the lane area and into settling for long shots. He changes the whole flow of the game.â
Walker is not only tall; he is a good athlete.
âYes, Ty is very athletic,â McMillian said. âHe runs the floor really well, and his endurance is good. He plays around 28-30 minutes a game, and he stays out of foul trouble. A big reason for that is that he does not swing down when trying to block shots. He tips them up.â
Walker is a good student, carrying a 3.4 grade-point average.
âPeople ask why he picked Wake Forest,â McMillian said. âWell, the main reason was the graduation rate of their basketball players. School is important to him.â
Walker was named MVP of the 2007 state 4-A championship game, scoring a dozen points, grabbing six rebounds and swatting away eight shots as Hanover defeated Vance.