For a long time Saturday and Sunday, Kerwin Walton’s name was popping up all over Twitter. Thing is, he had no clue.
The 6-5 Hopkins guard was one of the last uncommitted top high school basketball recruits in the Class of 2020. Possessing of one of the most in-demand skills — a reliable long-range shot — and versatile and athletic enough to be a lockdown defender at multiple positions, Walton was a hot topic in basketball circles all weekend after having announced that he would make his college decision April 25.
That was Saturday. It came and passed with no announcement. Sunday came and went, still no word.
Fans of North Carolina, one of his finalists and the team many considered the favorite, flooded social media with concern. So did the followers of his other finalists: the Gophers, Creighton, Arizona, Vanderbilt and Georgetown, only to a lesser degree than UNC loyalists.
“I had no idea,” Walton said, chuckling over two days of virtual hand-wringing. “I wasn’t paying too much attention.”
North Carolina fans needn’t have worried. Walton finalized his decision Monday morning, then announced via a video interview with national basketball recruiting expect Evan Daniels of 24/7 Sports his decision to play for the six-time NCAA tournament champion Tar Heels.
“When I first started playing basketball, I never imagined I would have this opportunity,” Walton said.
Much of the appeal of North Carolina, Walton said, rested in the history of the program.
“I remember going out on the old court, where MJ played,” he said. “That was wild.”
A trip to the Dean Smith Center, the 21,000-plus-seat home of the Tar Heels, was just as impressive.
“I thought it was really cool to look up and see all the banners and the colors,” Walton said. “The whole thing.”
Walton said he was swayed by the approach of Tar Heels coach Roy Williams.
“I like that he didn’t promise much anything,” he said. “I’m going to have to go in and work for it. He expects me to come in and be a part of a winning tradition and to bring all my skills to the table.”
The delay in announcing his decision over the weekend? His lingering affection for his hometown team, the Gophers.
“It was really super-hard to turn them down,” Walton said. “I’ve got phenomenal relationships with the coaches and the players, and it was an opportunity to play in front of friends and family. That’s why it took so long. It was hard to pass up.”
Decision behind him, Walton said he’s raring to go.
“I’m really more excited than anything else,” he said. “It’s a lot of weight off my shoulders. I’m ready to start preparing and getting better.”