Colorado Buffaloes star forward Jabari Walker will not be returning to college, his father Samaki told Jonathan Givony of Draft Express.
Jabari Walker, a first-team All Pac-12 member, will not return to Colorado, his father Samaki Walker told ESPN. "Jabari is fully committed to becoming a professional basketball player and has no intentions on returning to school. He wants to sign with an agent and go all in." pic.twitter.com/C6fm1haL9I— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 2, 2022
Jabari had entered the draft process while retaining his eligibility, but it seems that he has heard enough from NBA circles to fully commit to his dream of playing professionally. It’s not much of a surprise, considering he has been on draft radars even before he was named First Team All-Pac-12 and led the Buffs to the NIT.
Colorado was the only power conference team to offer Walker a scholarship out of high school. Part of that was Tad Boyle and staff scouting another 3-star diamond, and part of that was because Jabari was very young for his class and was something of an unknown. He’s still just 19-years-old and won’t turn 20 until July 30 — younger than freshmen Chet Holmgren, TyTy Washington and Peyton Watson.
NBA teams must have seen that Jabari is still scratching the surface of his potential. Maybe he is something of a tweener in today’s NBA — not quite big enough to be a stretch 5 and not athletic enough to guard in space as a 4 — but there’s a lot to mold with him.
Most big boards online have Walker as an early-to-mid second round pick. If he’s committing to the draft two weeks before the combine, it probably means teams have expressed interest in him and he feels certain someone will pick him up.
For the Buffs, this is a major blow but one they should have been prepared for. It’s unlikely Boyle is able to recruit another big to replicate his production, but this is obviously the best decision for Jabari. CU now has an open scholarships for next season and will probably target a transfer forward to take on a leading role.