Houston’s Jarace Walker beginning to let the game come to him as his confidence grows

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Phelan M Ebenhack/AP/Shutterstock (13741981c) Houston forward Jarace Walker (25) pushes the ball up the court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Central Florida, in Orlando, Fla Houston Men’s Basketball, Orlando, United States – 25 Jan 2023

Houston’s Jarace Walker beginning to let the game come to him as his confidence grows

Houston Cougars freshman forward Jarace Walker put together another strong performance this past weekend against Cincinnati. He set a new career-high with 25 points and came away with seven rebounds.

Saturday’s outing marked the fourth time in his last six games that the New Freedom, Pennsylvania, native has scored in double figures. He’s also had five or more rebounds in five games during that span.

For Walker, the string of solid performances is a byproduct of the comfort level he is beginning to have both on the floor and with his teammates.

“I feel like it is starting to come on better in terms of offense and defense, just finding when to look for my shot, when to be more aggressive [and] when to be more passive and get my teammates involved,” Walker said. “I feel like I am almost letting the game come to me.”

Walker was presented with the American Athletic Conference’s freshman of the week award on Monday for his numbers against UCF and Cincinnati. It marked the second straight week, and the third time in the last four weeks, that Walker has won the award.

“Jarace is just getting more comfortable and more confident, and you can see it in things we do in practice,” Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson said.

Sampson has said throughout the season that with freshmen, one of the hardest things for them to have is consistency because of their inexperience.

One of the things Walker struggled with early was adapting to the areas Houston emphasized, particularly being able to rebound and defend consistently, the freshman said.

“[I was] just worried about the wrong things, and so I feel like I am just worried about the right things [now], just rebounding, defense, and just letting everything else come to play,” Walker stated.

Walker adds an extra layer of versatility for Houston. In many ways, he could be considered an X-factor for the Cougars just because of how much he brings to the table. UH junior guard Jamal Shead said he gives the Cougars flexibility on offense.

“With him being able to score at all three levels, we get to switch a lot of what we do off pick and rolls,” Shead added. “Sometimes he pops. Sometimes he rolls. A lot of people aren’t really prepared for that and don’t realize how athletic he is sometimes.”

When Walker gets a full head of steam, he has the ability to produce highlight reel plays, such as the alley-oop slam he had against the Bearcats on Saturday.

As Houston continues to trek along toward March, how consistent Walker is could determine how much success the Cougars have in the big tournament.

One thing that helps Walker is that on any given night when he is hot, Shead and the rest of the team will make sure he gets the ball and goes to work on the opposition.

“When he is going, just like when Marcus [Sasser] is going, you know, get out of the way,” Shead said. “You give your hot hand the ball and get out of the way.”

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1 Comment

  • I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate your coverage of U of H sports.
    Keep up the good work

    Go coogs

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