A.J. Walker Decides To Return Next Season, Removes Name From Transfer Portal
Air Force receives some good news regarding their returning leading scorer after a couple of months in the transfer portal.
One of the Mountain West’s best removes his name from the transfer portal on Friday, opts to return to Air Force next season.
While there still remains some uncertainty regarding how some rosters around the Mountain West will look come fall as the NBA Draft early entrants withdrawal deadline has officially been announced along with other draft related activities. Fans around the league got at least some good news on Friday, as Air Force Junior guard A.J. Walker has opted to return to Colorado Springs next season and be the leader that head coach Joe Scott needed in his first year in charge.
At first, Walker had placed his name into the NCAA transfer portal after the firing of then head coach Dave Pilipovich. He then spent a very quiet couple of months receiving interest from some of the top high major programs in the country.
Walker has been one of the best guards in the conference for the past two years and made the move to a full-time starter in his second season at the Academy in 2019-2020.
But in mid-May, he announced a final-four list of schools that included a familiar face. Along with Texas Christian, Texas Tech & Tulsa, the San Antonio, TX native left a return to Air Force as an option. The anticipation had was set, but Air Force faithful had to wait another two and a half weeks to get a happy surprise on their feeds with the news of Walker’s return.
His return not only provides an immediate impact for first year head coach Joe Scott on a roster otherwise full of unknowns, as the Falcons lose four of their five top scorers to graduation and have a recruiting system and team structure that allows for very little insight to what the Falcon’s rotation will look like come opening night.
But he will also return as one of the best players in the conference next season after averaging 11.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG & 3.1 APG in 32 games for the Falcons in this past season. That includes a near triple-double on February 15th at home against San Jose State (10 points, 11 rebounds & 9 assists) as well as an impressive Mountain West conference tournament showing in which he averaged 21.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.5 APG & 2.0 SPG while shooting 7-12 from deep.
Though as Air Force fans begin to rejoice, they should also remember that Walker has his work cut out for him, as the Falcons have been pegged to finish last in many Way-to-early Mountain West power rankings for next season.
He loses his top-two assist targets in the post and the team’s top scorers from last season in Lavelle Scottie (15.7 PPG) and Ryan Swan-Ford (12.5 PPG) to graduation. While only bringing back two players with any real experience in the starting lineup, in junior guards Christopher Joyce (13 starts/6.6 PPG) & Keaton Van Soelen (9 starts/3.5 PPG).
But don’t let any of that get you down, as this is still a win for the Academy and the conference as a whole. And with a new coaching staff in place, the Falcons could be in for a very different looking season, we now just have to wait and see.