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Spurs draft pick Lonnie Walker ready for challenge, says Pop 'will teach me to be great'

Walker IV selected with No. 18 pick

Lonnie Walker IV of Miami, right, poses with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after he was picked 18th overall by the San Antonio Spurs during the first round of the NBA basketball draft in New York, Thursday, June 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
Lonnie Walker IV of Miami, right, poses with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after he was picked 18th overall by the San Antonio Spurs during the first round of the NBA basketball draft in New York, Thursday, June 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

SAN ANTONIO – In 2011, the Spurs came away from the draft with Kawhi Leonard, a player who would become a dominant defensive force and blossom into one of the best two-way players in the game.

Seven years later, they can only hope history can repeat itself.

With rumors swirling about whether Leonard would remain on the roster at the end of draft night, the Spurs stuck with the No. 18 pick and selected Lonnie Walker IV out of Miami (FL).

Walker, who represents the Spurs highest draft pick since they acquired Leonard's rights in 2011, is a 6-foot-4 shooting guard who gives the Spurs a jolt of youth and athleticism on the perimeter.

The Pennsylvania native was named to the All-ACC Freshman team after one season at Miami.

Headed into the draft, scouts praised Walker's ability to guard multiple position and play in transition.

Others have noted he can be inconsistent on offense and needs to improve his 3-point shooting.

"I feel like being able to play with the Spurs and being coached by someone like Coach Popovich is going to teach me how to be great. Simple as that," Walker said. 

Walker told reporters in Brooklyn he was ready to contribute and do what it takes for the team to be successful.

"If Coach Popovich needs me to dive on the floor strictly, then I'll strictly dive on the floor," Walker said. "I'm going to do whatever it takes for us to get that win sooner than later, hopefully receive that championship."

As he made the media rounds after being drafted, Walker was asked about an emotional moment he had with his mother when he heard his name called by San Antonio.

"People don't understand where I come from," Walker said. "I talked to my mom earlier today. We don't have to worry about sharing a cheeseburger for dinner. We don't have to worry about sharing some Doritos for breakfast," Walker said.

Walker told the local media he has never been to San Antonio, but was excited about the Alamo City and felt it was the right place for him. He was projected to possibly be a lottery pick, but slipped a bit in the first round.

"It's time to work, time to prove everyone wrong and I know I'm in the right place at the right time to become something special," Walker said. 

On a night that began with so much uncertainty surrounding Leonard, it was good to hear someone say San Antonio was the right place.


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