NC State

NC State hoops in pursuit of late bloomer Antwan Walker

H.D. Woodson Warriors senior Antwan Walker (15) goes in for his second dunk in the second period of the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association championship game at UDC February 24, 2016 in Washington, DC.
H.D. Woodson Warriors senior Antwan Walker (15) goes in for his second dunk in the second period of the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association championship game at UDC February 24, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Washington Post

N.C. State has had a knack for late additions on the basketball recruiting trail.

Lennard Freeman, Maverick Rowan and Shaun Kirk all committed to N.C. State after the usual recruiting cycle.

Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried is hoping to find more late success with Antwan Walker, a 6-7 forward from Woodson High School in Washington, D.C.

Trey Mines, Walker’s coach at Woodson, describes the lanky senior forward as a classic late bloomer. Walker, who is 6-7 and 210 pounds and is rated as a three-star prospect by 247Sports, didn’t start playing organized basketball until the ninth grade.

“He was OK his freshman year,” Mines said. “He got a lot better by the end of his sophomore year, and then he started to develop a jump shot as a junior.

“This year, he was just a monster.”

I think he would have a chance to come in and play right away and contribute.

Trey Mines, Antwan Walker’s high school coach

Walker averaged 16 points, 14 rebounds and 6 blocks, Mines said, and led Woodson to a 33-0 record and a D.C. State Athletic Association tournament title. The Warriors were the first city public school to finish undefeated since 1985.

N.C. State offered Walker a scholarship after an AAU tournament in Dallas in mid-April, Mines said. Georgetown and South Carolina are the other major programs recruiting Walker.

Mines said there’s still a chance Walker could go to prep school next season. Walker won’t turn 18 until the end of November.

“We just want to figure out the best situation for him,” Mines said.

Even though N.C. State has jumped into the recruiting process late, Mines said there are some major pluses for the Wolfpack.

“I think he would have a chance to come in and play right away and contribute,” Mines said.

N.C. State is short on frontcourt help. Forwards Abdul-Malik Abu and BeeJay Anya both declared for the NBA draft. Neither have hired an agent and have until May 25 to return.

Abu, who was second on the team in scoring and led the Wolfpack in rebounding, told ESPN earlier this week that he was “seriously considering hiring an agent or transferring.”

Anya said on Wednesday he was still in the middle of the evaluation process. If both left, Freeman, a senior, would be the only scholarship forward on the roster.

The addition of point guard Dennis Smith is also working in the Wolfpack’s favor, Mines said. Smith played his AAU ball for Team Loaded North Carolina. Walker plays for Team Loaded Virginia.

“Dennis is definitely a selling factor and one reason why (Walker) likes N.C. State,” Mines said.

Walker still needs to make the qualifying score on his SAT, Mines said. Walker is scheduled to take the college entrance exam on Saturday. Mines hopes Walker will be able to make a decision in the next month.

Mines said Walker’s age would be the primary reason he would go to a prep school instead of college next fall.

“He could get the test score and still decide to go to prep school,” Mines said. “It’s really just a matter of what’s best for him. I don’t want him to feel like he’s rushed to make a decision.

“We’ll sort out all the options after the test and then go from there.”

Smith is the only freshman addition to the Wolfpack roster. Sophomore guard Torin Dorn, a transfer from Charlotte, is eligible after sitting out the 2015-16 season.

N.C. State missed out on some immediate help when Arizona State graduate transfer Savon Goodman recently picked LaSalle.

Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt, who would have had to sit out the 2016-17 season, picked SMU after being pursued by the Wolfpack.

N.C. State is still recruiting Turkish big man Omer Yurtseven, Coppin State guard Christian Kessee, a graduate transfer, guard Tyrell Gumbs-Frater, a high school senior from Toronto, and junior college forward Keanu Pinder.

Not counting the players who have declared for the NBA draft, N.C. State has six scholarship players currently on the roster. The NCAA limit is 13.

Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

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