This series will be reviewing every player who played for the Ducks in the 2019-20 season and is returning for 2020-21, as well as covering what to look forward to from next season’s roster.
Key Stats: 4.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 0.5 bpg
As a five-star recruit that was ranked 19th on ESPN’s top 100 for the 2019 class, C.J. Walker came to Eugene with two things: talent and expectations. He’s a talented young man who had offers from schools such as Arizona, Florida, Xavier, and many others, before deciding on the Ducks. As one of the members of Oregon’s big 2019 recruiting class, you might think that Walker didn’t live up to expectations, especially when looking at his per game averages and overall playing time. But just like the Transformers, there’s more to him than meets the eye.
Looking back on the season, there were some highs and lows for C.J. Walker. Lows included missing three early conference games due to a back injury he suffered against Alabama State. Some highs came in two of Oregon’s bigger games of the year, against Seton Hall and Gonzaga in the Battle for Atlantis Tournament, in which Walker had back-to-back games with double-digit points and looked like a legitimate difference maker. Regardless of how his season played out, it had its glimpses of what could be to come for Walker.
Walker’s season should serve as a reminder that statistics are a valuable metric of success in athletics, but are not the be-all end-all. While it’s true that not a lot of his statistics jump out at you, take a closer look. Walker was battling for minutes with Shakur Juiston, N’Faly Dante, Chandler Lawson and Francis Okoro. And given Dana Altman’s proclivity for going with the more experienced combo of Juiston/Okoro early in the season and then Juiston/Lawson during the latter half, there wasn’t much time left over for Walker.
Despite these obstacles, when Walker was provided the opportunity to shine, he took full advantage. All of his performances with double digit scoring came in games when he played 21, 25, and 22 minutes, respectively. He showcased his scoring prowess with 18 points against Hawaii and his overall skills against Seton Hall and Gonzaga. He has the ideal size and athleticism to play either the 3 or 4 spot, especially if his shooting ability continues to progress.
C.J. showed flashes of not only the offensive player he could become, but the defensive one as well. His shot-blocking instincts are top notch, and he’s a very active defender. The number of players for Oregon next year that are both capable rebounders as well as shot blockers give them great defensive potential. A defensive lineup featuring Walker, Chandler Lawson and N’Faly Dante would be as long as it is scary.
What to expect in 2020-21
More playing time, if we are lucky. Walker is one of the players that most benefit from the departures of Shakur Juiston and Francis Okoro. Given the proper opportunity, we will see what made Walker such a coveted recruit. And that speaks well for Oregon’s potential.
All stats provided by Sports Reference