Chris Walker and Pat Connaughton on Two Different Paths to the NBA

Two Players, Two Separate Paths Following the First Day of NBA Draft Combine

Pat Connaughton and Chris Walker  are two players on two separate paths from this point forward in life after starting today in the same place.

The NBA draft combine in Chicago.

Connaughton, a 6-5 guard-forward, came into today’s activity following his senior year at Notre Dame. Chris Walker, a 6-10 Florida Gator forward and former top 10 recruit in the class of 2013 along with current NBA Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle and the Harrison twins, was also set to prove to scouts and team management that he is worth one of the 60 picks in the upcoming draft next month.

Connaughton spent four years at Notre Dame, Walker just two in Gainesville. Both players amongst the many in Chicago participating in drills, 5-on-5 scrimmages and interviews all for the sole purpose of having his name called on June 25.

Walker had as much to prove today as any other player in attendance due to his up and down play at Florida. His numbers can only tell part of the tale, but the story they tell isn’t a good one; 4.7 points per game, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks (which actually needs to be highlighted a bit for a college forward) are certainly not eye popping. New Oklahoma City Thunder coach, then-Florida-Gators coach Billy Donovan only trusted him enough to play him 14.6 minutes a game on what ended up being a bad Gator team.

Connaughton on the other hand was one of Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey’s most trusted players, playing 35.6 minutes a night for a 32-6 team that went 14-4 in the ACC before winning the ACC Tournament this past March. Connaughton averaged 12.5 points and 7 rebounds before he and the Fighting Irish lost to Kentucky 68-66 in the Elite 8.

21 February 2015; Florida Gators at LSU Tigers; Florida Gators forward Chris Walker (23) during a game in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Chris Walker has a lot to prove at the NBA Combine.

Two players on two different paths, indeed.

Earlier today Walker was injured in a scrimmage; details of his injury were not discussed during the televised coverage of the draft combine. Connaughton, who was not necessarily an unheralded coming out of St. John’s Prep in Arlington, Massachusetts, surprised many in attendance not with his play but with his athleticism. His maximum vertical was recorded at 44”, his standing vertical leap at 37.5” and his lane agility drill was completed in 10.74 seconds. All were first overall amongst the players tested.

Two players on two different paths.

Walker is hopefully going to be back on court soon so that he can continue to work on his resume. He was projected to be an undrafted player before getting injured. Connaughton may have taken some huge steps from being considered an undrafted player to someone a GM or team president drafts to fill a roster spot.

Two players on different paths, indeed.

In the most important job interview of either of these young men’s lives, thus far Connaughton has come up big while Walker still has a ways to go. Hopefully there’s still time to for both of them to accomplish their goals.

Then it will be two players on the same path.

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