KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee freshman Derrick Walker looks the part on the basketball court, and he’s showing he can play the part.
The forward has impressed the coaching staff and consistently recorded solid numbers during Tennessee’s European trip.
Coach Rick Barnes said at a press conference Tuesday that Walker was one of the players who stood out on the trip.
“Derrick was terrific for a guy playing in his first couple of games,” Barnes said.
Walker averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds in the three exhibition games. Tennessee won all three.
“I think he’s going to keep getting better and better,” Barnes said. “What he does best and what a lot of people never figure out is he understands what he’s really good at. He rebounds the ball really well, and he’s not afraid to do all the dirty work. He can pass the ball and handle the ball. He’s got a feel for the game. He did a great job rebounding over there.”
Walker likely will earn his way onto the basketball court with his rebounding ability. The 6-foot-8, 238-pound forward has a solid frame for working under the basket and fighting for the ball.
Barnes said Walker holds his own with more veteran competition.
“We were playing against big, strong guys,” Barnes said. “We were playing older guys and the physicality didn’t affect him at all.”
Walker’s early strong play might come as a bit of a surprise. The Kansas City, Mo., product didn’t come to the Vols as the most heralded prospect. The 247Sports composite listed him as a 3-star prospect and the No. 66 power forward in the Class of 2017.
Forwards Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams will soak up most of the playing time in the frontcourt this season, but look for Walker to push for playing time with his strong style of play.