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Eisenhower's R.J. Walker verbally commits to the University of Idaho for basketball

Eisenhower's R.J. Walker verbally commits to the University of Idaho for basketball

RJ Walker 1

Eisenhower's R.J. Walker (1) verbally committed to the University of Idaho on Saturday. 

DECATUR — Eisenhower senior and the reigning Macon County Player of the Year R.J. Walker verbally committed to the University of Idaho, he announced Saturday.

Walker said he's excited to be joining the Division I Vandals team that is rebuilding and trying to turn a corner with a talented group of new players in the Big Sky Conference.

“They are in a rebuilding phase and myself and the other guys that they are recruiting will be the group that will be able to turn things around and we should be one of the top teams over there,” Walker said.

The Vandals were 8-24 in the 2019-20 season and the program last reached the NCAA tournament in 1990, but second-year coach Zac Claus will have a new facility when Walker suits up. 

“They've got a new coach and I really enjoy it because it is sort of a fresh start for them and it's not like I'm coming into a bad program,” Walker said. “They are also getting a new stadium set up which should be ready for my freshman year, so I'll be on the first team to play in there, which is cool.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Walker hasn’t been able to see the Moscow, Idaho, campus in person yet but he’s ready for the long move out west.

“They were going to fly me out but we can't really do anything right now because of corona and I have done the virtual tour,” Walker said. “I'm ready and I know there is more stuff out there than Decatur so I just want to see the world and explore new things and I feel like I'm ready.”

Before then, Walker will lead a Panthers team that will have a different look following the transfer of guard Brylan Phillips and forward Karon Shelley to MacArthur.

“I think I'm going to love this team actually and I think it's going to be a great year because no one really expects us to be as good as we were last year, but these upcoming guys have been like sponges," Walker said. "They've been taking in all the knowledge that I've been given to them when we worked out this summer. I think it's going to be a fun year for us.”

With the recruiting journey complete for Walker, he can enjoy his senior season with less stress.

“I'm glad the recruiting is over because normally kids have to worry about going all out their senior year and worry about getting offers, but I can just focus on my team and winning,” he said. “It is a weight that has dropped off my back, which is good.”

Walker joins his father — Eisenhower coach Rodney Walker, who played at New Mexico State University — in heading out west to play for a Division I school.

“Getting to play Division 1 is a big accomplishment and I've been looking forward to it my whole life and I've been sacrificing a lot of stuff, too, and it just feels good to be able to go D-I and earn it,” R.J. said.

Although his senior season will be the last being coached by his father, R.J. is certain he will still be getting tips from Rodney during his college journey.

Said R.J.: “I know he will still be coaching me after the games and telling me what I did good on and what I need to work on I’m sure.”

PHOTOS: Eisenhower takes down Mattoon in regional finals

Contact Matthew Flaten at (217) 421-6968. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFlaten


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