Ten days after Dontrez Styles became UNC’s first commit for 2021, the Heels added another commitment to their heralded 2020 recruiting haul. On Monday, four-star shooting guard Kerwin Walton committed to play for UNC next season. After signing five recruits last November, a sixth scholarship opened up when Brandon Huffman announced he was transferring from the program. Evan Daniels of 247Sports reported the announcement.
Four-star guard Kerwin Walton joins @247Sports to make his college announcement.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) April 27, 2020
“Next season I plan to play college basketball at the University of North Carolina.”
Story: https://t.co/fbfpIUE2bX pic.twitter.com/fYLVIOZhai
The 6-5, 195-pound shooter played for Hopkins High School in Hopkins, Minnesota. After failing to persuade Matthew Hurt (Duke) and Zeke Nnaji (Arizona), Roy finally landed a product from the Land of 10,000 Lakes. A former teammate of Nnaji, Walton is the first Tar Heel recruit from Minnesota since point guard Adam Boone came to Chapel Hill in 2000. He last visited UNC on an official visit in the fall fall, just weeks before Puff Johnson committed and took the last available scholarship at that time.
Rivals and 247 Sports are largely in agreement on Walton as a prospect, with both slotting him in the bottom of their respective top-100 lists. The 247 Sports Composite lists him as the #99 recruit in the nation, and Rivals places him as the #87 prospect in the nation. It’s possible those evaluations will receive a post-season bump, but those plans have largely been put on hold due to COVID-19.
A projected multi-year player, Walton will instantly compete for available playing time on the wing. With Leaky Black, Andrew Platek, and Anthony Harris as the only depth returning on the wings, playing time is available at the shooting guard and small forward positions. Walton averaged 26 points and 11 rebounds in his senior campaign, and will try to put that scoring prowess to good use. Check out these highlight videos.
Coming off a year where the Heels shot 30.4% from three, the worst performance in program history, Walton will look to carve an early niche in his first season. Valued for his three-point shooting, he’s developed into a more versatile scorer over the last 18 months. He doesn’t possess top-tier athleticism or flashy handles, but the ability to create his shot off the ball, exploit open lanes, or serve as a catch-and-shoot option on the wing will be helpful. With ball dominant McDonald’s All-Americans Caleb Love and R.J. Davis joining him in Chapel Hill, a versatile, (healthy) wing was a necessary addition.
Walton’s size also brings some much-needed length to the perimeter, where he can eventually evolve into a defensive nuisance on opposing wings. That’s another area UNC has consistently struggled the past few seasons. He’ll need time in the weight room but perhaps the most exciting part of this commitment is the potential that Walton has to develop into a true two-way, all-around player.
Walton’s 247 Sports bio page has this evaluation of Walton’s game:
Good size and length for position. Projectable frame with room to gain strength. High level shooter who can hit shots off the catch and pull. Not a specialist but three-point shooting is best attribute. Respectable handle but more of a straight-line driver. Has midrange/floater game. Sees floor well and is a good passer for position. Moves feet well laterally and is plus on ball defender. Improvement throughout high school gives optimism for future. Projects as starter at high major program.
Regardless of what Walton brings to the court next season, he’s another recruit in a long-line of multi-year players that have proven so vital to program success in this era of one-and-done players. He is the Heels’ sixth recruit for 2021, joining the aforementioned Love and Davis, as well as Puff Johnson, and McDonald’s All-American big men Walker Kessler and Day’Ron Sharpe.
Walton picked the Heels over Creighton, Arizona, Minnesota, Georgetown, and Vanderbilt. This is the second recruiting battle the Heels won against Arizona in the 2020 class. Sean Miller’s crew in Tucson were the presumed leaders for Puff Johnson before he chose UNC.
With Jeremiah Francis’ decision to transfer, UNC still has one more scholarship available for next season. There are not any known targets at this time.
The Heels maintain a top-3 recruiting class with Walton’s commitment.