Former NBA D-League standout and current San Antonio Spur Jonathon Simmons lays claim to what’s been called the “greatest story in basketball.” But after the 2017 Showcase, his good friend Devondrick Walker may soon give him a run for his money.
Over the course of the Delaware 87ers’ two games in Mississauga, Walker put on perhaps the greatest shooting display the Showcase has ever seen. In just 49 total minutes, he went 15-of-18 from the field, including 12-of-12 from downtown, on his way to 46 points.
It was a performance so remarkable that Walker didn’t even want to take credit for it, telling NBADLeague.com after the Showcase, “It’s unbelievable to come out here and perform on that stage and basically not miss a shot. That’s not human–like so I don’t even want credit for it, so I won’t take any. I really just want to give honor to the most high.”
For Walker, the shooting display was the culmination of years and years of hard work and dedication — not just to get better, but to keep his dream of playing basketball alive.
You would expect most players at this level to have been high school or collegiate superstars, but as Walker relayed after Friday’s game, “I didn’t really get to play varsity until I was a senior in high school (South Garland in Texas), and coming out of high school I had no scholarships.”
But Walker didn’t give up, securing a last-second offer from an NAIA school called Northwest Oklahoma State through a connection his high school assistant coach had. He rarely played, however, and after one season transferred to Texas A&M University-Commerce, a little known Division-II school outside of Dallas. It was there that Walker found someone who believed in him.
“I had an amazing head coach (Sam Walker),” Walker said. “He forced me to defend when I didn’t want to, forced me to rebound when I didn’t want to.”
As a senior, Walker averaged 13.6 points per game and showed off his shooting prowess, knocking down 43.2 percent of his attempts from downtown. But with no contract offers, he thought his playing days had come to a close.
“Coming out of school I thought I was done playing, honestly,” the 6-5 swingman said. “I didn’t have any offers, any opportunities, really. I just went to open tryouts. Austin, the Legends, I went to RGV’s workout. And luckily Austin picked me up.”
Just a year earlier, Simmons had made the Austin Spurs through the same open tryout. Soon, the new teammates became fast friends.
“He’s one of my good friends. I can call him, text him whenever,” Walker said. “Just seeing how hard he works, seeing the work he put in — I’m just trying to follow that model.”
From Austin, their paths diverged, however, as Simmons made his way to the Association and Walker was waived. When one of Austin’s assistant coaches, Mike Miller, became the head coach of the Westchester Knicks, he brought Walker along with him — something Walker will forever be thankful for.
As Walker put it, “He gave me an opportunity, he gave me a chance. He said, ‘Go out and do your thing, get better.'” “He taught me so much, I learned so much being there.”
A few games into this season, Walker moved again, being shipped to the 87ers in a trade for former NBA role player Von Wafer. The move brought Walker additional playing time and eventually led to this week’s three-point bonanza, which was really a continuation of a season-long hot streak. In 24 games with Delaware, Walker is putting up 15.1 points in 26.9 minutes per game, shooting 43 percent from downtown.
Two colleges, three open tryouts and three D-League teams later, Devondrick Walker has finally arrived on the national stage. Whether his performance at the Showcase leads to a future deal — overseas or otherwise — there is no doubt that he made a name for himself.
But for now, he’s only focused on working hard, staying positive and trying to follow in the footsteps of his friend Jonathon Simmons.
“We breath the same, we put our pants on the same. If this guy can do it, so can I.”