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UNC Basketball: Former Tar Heel Kerwin Walton has committed to Texas Tech

Texas Tech made the Sweet 16 last season.

Pittsburgh v North Carolina Photo by Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images

Even though Hubert Davis had basically shrunk the rotation to six players by the end of the season, there were good vibes about the Tar Heels around the NBA Draft deadline as it appeared that Carolina wasn’t going to have to scramble with losses in the roster. This was particularly surprising when Kerwin Walton appeared to be staying.

Except he wasn’t.

To say his sophomore season was a disappointment is an understatement. Walton came into the 2021-22 year as Carolina’s best shooter from the prior season and had seemed poised for a breakout when the new coach was trying to figure out who he would rely on. However, defense was a problem for Walton the season before and it never got better, or at least, not better enough for Davis to play him consistently. In the few minutes he did get, he would force up shots and not connect, and by the time the season was done he only saw about four minutes of action in the NCAA Tournament-and notably zero minutes in the Baylor game when bodies were dropping left and right.

Thus while it still wasn’t much of a surprise when Walton took advantage of the NCAA transfer portal and decided he needed a fresh start rather than having to claw back with the roster that was mostly going to look like last season with a few new freshmen sprinkled in. On Monday, Walton made his decision:

Walton heads to a squad that is coming off a Sweet 16 loss to Duke, but is looking to make noise in the Big 12 again by landing four other transfers, perhaps having the best “recruiting” class of experience in the country. As far as the defensive concerns go, considering what Mark Adams was able to do with the Red Raider squad last year there’s a pretty decent chance if he can’t improve Walton’s defense, no one can. Texas Tech ranked eleventh in scoring defense last season, and it led to many thinking they could upset the Blue Devils in the tournament.

Clearly, Adams was able to sell Walton on the combination of improving his overall game and the opportunity he had to shoot the three, as the Red Raiders currently don’t have anyone with that skillset before now. If Walton is able to find his shot and improve his defense to stay on the floor, he’s going to be a problem for the Big 12 in a hurry.

As Walton’s first season was the 2020-21 season, he still gets the extra year of eligibility if he wants to use it, so even though he’ll be a junior he’ll have up to three years to play in Lubbock. Just be aware of the flying tortillas.

Good luck at Texas Tech, Kerwin. Hopefully a change of scenery will do everyone some good.