Walker has quietly had good career at UF

March, 3, 2012
3/03/12
8:33
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Erving Walker will play his final game at the O'Connell Center on Sunday when 13th-ranked Florida plays host to top-ranked Kentucky.

[+] EnlargeWalker
Kim Klement/US PresswireWith 519 assists, Erving Walker already owns the Florida record.
But don't expect him to get emotional when he gets a framed jersey in a pregame ceremony alongside his parents and cousin.

"I'll be all right," Walker said. "I'm not going to cry or anything."

That has pretty much been Walker's attitude throughout his Florida career. He never gets too high or too low. He's right in the middle, which may not make him much of a vocal leader (and he has gotten criticized for that by his coach), but it also means he's never going to panic or let the moment overpower him, either.

"Erving's not a very demonstrative, outspoken, loud guy," UF coach Billy Donovan said. "Even when he makes shots, like he did at Arkansas [when he scored a career-high 31 points], you never really see an emotional change, and I think that’s a good thing.

"The one thing I think affects players negatively is when they are on an emotional roller-coaster ride during the course of the game."

Walker's play, however, has been a bit up and down in his career. He has made some big shots -- such as the 30-footer he hit to force a second overtime in a victory over Georgia last season -- but he has missed some big ones, too -- like the 3-pointer he missed at the end of regulation in an overtime loss to Butler in the NCAA Tournament last season.

Sometimes his judgment in driving the lane has been questionable, too.

But Walker has been a very good player at Florida (22-8, 10-5 SEC), and he will finish his career as the school's all-time leader in assists (519 and counting) and 3-point field-goal attempts (723 and counting) and has a chance to be the school's all-time leader in 3-pointers, too. He has 276 and trails leader Lee Humphrey by 12.

Walker also will finish in the top four in school history in scoring. He currently is fourth with 1,707 points, 74 behind No. 3 Udonis Haslem and 223 behind No. 22 Andrew Moten.

That's not bad for a 5-foot-8 point guard in the SEC.

"He's had an incredible career for a guy his size," Donovan said. "It's pretty impressive, not only with the way he shoots the ball and leaving here [among the] top five all-time leading scorers, but to leave here as the No. 1 assist guy in the history of the school. He's had a really good career and he's been a part of a lot of winning, too, which has been great."

There were people in Walker's circle who advised him against signing with Florida, especially after the Gators signed a pair of decorated point guards in 2007 in Nick Calathes and Jai Lucas. But Walker liked the school, program and Donovan, so he honored his commitment and arrived in Gainesville, Fla., in 2008 along with four other freshmen. He's the only one left. The rest -- Kenny Kadji, Allen Chaney, Eloy Vargas and Ray Shipman -- transferred.

"I just tried to come in and work my hardest and just let the chips fall where they may," Walker said. "I think it worked out pretty good for me, but coming into college I had no idea what to expect."

There’s something Donovan knows to expect against Kentucky (29-1, 15-0) on Sunday: Walker will be the calmest guy on the court -- before and during the game.

"He knows who he is," Donovan said. "He’s got confidence in himself. It's kind of a quiet confidence, but I also think that’s what makes him play well because he never really gets rattled too much. Whether the crowd's going crazy or whether he's made a bunch of shots, his emotions never really change."

Michael DiRocco covers University of Florida sports for GatorNation. He can be reached at espndirocco@gmail.com or on Twitter @ESPNdirocco.

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter

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