Head coach Rick Barnes announced Wednesday that 6-8, 250-pound forward Derrick Walker is joining the Tennessee basketball family, as Walker has signed a National Letter of Intent to enroll at the University of Tennessee.
Walker, who hails from Kansas City, Missouri, plans to enroll at UT this summer. He will be a freshman for the Volunteers starting next season and intends to explore a major in Exercise Science/Kinesiology.
“Derrick is going to blend nicely into our team due to his combination of size, strength and toughness,” Barnes said. “We’re also excited about his basketball IQ and the fact that he’s a vocal defender, a good rebounder and an excellent ball-handler and passer for a player of his size.
“So there are a lot of signs that point to him being able to help us immediately. His next challenge is to get himself into great shape so that he can make the kind of impact we believe he’s capable of.”
Walker—rated as the No. 3 prospect in the state of Missouri in the 2017 industry-generated 247Sports Composite—signed with Tennessee out of Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas, near Wichita, where he was coached this past season by former Gonzaga player Kyle Bankhead. Walker was a member of the 2016 class at one point, but decided in the summer of 2016 to re-classify back to the 2017 class and spend a post-grad year at Sunrise Christian. During the 2016-17 season, Walker averaged 14 points and seven rebounds per game.
Sunrise Christian also has produced former NCAA stars Buddy Hield (Oklahoma) and Sebastian Saiz (Ole Miss).
Walker played his AAU ball for MoKan Elite on the Nike EYBL circuit during the summer of 2016, helping that squad win the prestigious Nike Peach Jam championship in July.
He attended Raytown Senior High School in Raytown, Missouri, from his freshman through junior years. As a junior in 2014-15, Walker helped lead Raytown to a conference title and the Missouri Class 5 District 14 championship game while earning second-team All-Suburban White Conference honors.
He also played football (wide receiver) his first three years of high school at Raytown.
No Missouri native has ever lettered for the Tennessee basketball program.
Walker becomes the second signee in this Tennessee recruiting class, joining forward Zach Kent, who signed in November.