The final July live period for the Adidas’ AAU circuit concluded with the 3SSB Open at AIM Sports Complex in Seal Beach, CA. This session featured an opening day of showcase games, followed by championship and consolation brackets, which was a golden opportunity for players to showcase themselves in the presence of hundreds of college coaches.
Pro Insight was on-hand to cover the event and caught up with Ja’Kobe Walter of Team Trae Young (OK) and Link Academy (MO). As a junior at McKinney High School (TX), the 6’5'' guard averaged 23.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 2.3 steals per game and led the program to the 2022 UIL 6A State Championship against Duncanville High School (TX). Last June, the five-star prospect chose the Baylor Bears over Texas, Kansas, Alabama, and Auburn, among others. Bringing positional size and physical tools at the guard spot, Walter is a two-way player with perimeter skills and big time secondary playmaking potential.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Walter talked about the opportunity to attend Link Academy for his senior season, why he committed to Scott Drew and Baylor, his dream NIL deal, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present Baylor commit Ja’Kobe Walter, from McKinney, Texas:
Pro Insight: Congratulations on recently participating in the 3SSB All-American Camp. Reflecting on your final AAU run, how would you describe your experience with Team Trae Young?
Ja’Kobe Walter: It's really great, you know. AAU’s been a long journey and just to have it this last summer with these guys and we're all close, so just finishing it off with them, it’s really nice.
PI: How did you get to where you are today? Talk a bit about your background and family.
JW: My mom, she didn't really play basketball, but she's always been there for me, encouraging me since I started when I was like four. My dad hooped in college at Birmingham Southern so you know, I was always in the gym with him when he was just in men's leagues or whatever. I fell in love with the game and then he was the one that just started training me, trying to get me right and then from there, it all just took off.
PI: And it’s Ja’Kobe Walter — no “s”. How often do people get that wrong?
JW: All the time. It’s like one of my biggest pet peeves (laughs). Everybody’s like Ja’Kobe Walters. Yeah, there's no “s”.
PI: Did you play any other sports growing up?
JW: Yeah, I was a football player, too. I started both of them at the same age, and I really liked football the most at first, but then freshman year I stopped playing football 'cause I knew I could take off in basketball.
PI: For those who aren’t familiar with your game, what are your greatest strengths and playstyle?
JW: I would consider my game as just being a two-way player. You know, I love defense and I also love offense. I love scoring the rock and doing all the dirty work on defense.
PI: Who do you model your game after or study on film?
JW: You know, a lot of Paul George. I think he's the craftiest non-point guard in the league. He definitely has a super deep bag. Him and Jayson Tatum, but my favorite player to watch is KD.
PI: What are you hoping to work on between now and getting to campus?
JW: I'm definitely trying to get stronger so I can finish around the rim better and just be more consistent on the offensive end.
PI: What are your short term goals you have for yourself as a player?
JW: Really just trying to win GEICO. You know, since they couldn't do it last year, just as a team goal, we just want to win GEICO and for me, I just want to keep it going — be a McDonald's All American.
PI: Congrats on the move to Link Academy, by the way. How did the opportunity come about?
JW: Oh, after our stretch in San Antonio, they hit me up. Well, actually before when prep playoffs first started, they hit me up. It was Coach Perry and you know, he just talked to me about the program. I was watching them that past season so I took a visit down there and I just really enjoyed it. It's in Branson, Missouri, so there's not that much to do, so I just know I'll be focused on basketball and I think it's just the best opportunity for me.
PI: Is there anyone in particular you’re looking forward to playing with?
JW: Yeah, definitely Jacolb Cole 'cause this is our last year in high school and we started AAU way long ago so just playing with him, probably gonna be my roommate, too. It’s gonna be real fun and then get to play with five-star Elliot Cadeau, he's a super crafty guard. Trey Green, Jordan Ross, all of them. I'm really excited.
PI: Who has been the toughest individual matchup you’ve ever faced?
JW: I had to guard G.G. at the [NBPA] Top-100 Camp a couple of times. G.G. Jackson, he's just the full package — 6’10” and can hoop. So yeah, it was pretty tough.
PI: Congratulations on committing to Baylor, too. What set Baylor apart? What made them different from the rest of your options?
JW: Just the relationship and culture. They were my first offer so we had the best relationship. We talked through it. They never went away for a little bit and came back. They were always just trying to talk to me, telling me exactly what it was and I just think I fit their system perfectly.
PI: What was Coach Drew and his staff’s reaction when you told them?
JW: Yeah, so first I called Coach Drew, but he didn't answer so I ended up Facetiming Coach Brooks and I just talked to him, blah-blah-blah, and then I told him I was committing and his family with his wife, everybody, I heard them screaming. You know they were all excited, and then later when I was at the gym, Coach Drew called me and first thing he did, he didn't even say anything, he just screamed on the phone all excited. So yeah, it was just a really cool experience.
PI: Did you have a chance to watch them play at the U23 GLOBL JAM up in Canada?
JW: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I watched the highlights of it and my guy Keyonte [George], you know, he went stupid out there. So yeah, I just looked at their offense and I’m just really excited to get there and be in it.
PI: What is Baylor getting in Ja’Kobe Walter?
JW: They're just getting a hard worker and a do-whatever-it-takes-to-win type of guy.
PI: What are your biggest interests outside of basketball?
JW: I write in a journal sometimes, but that's that really it. Yeah, I don't really do too much, but sleep, you know (laughs)?
PI: Who are your favorite music artists?
JW: Favorite music artist…SoFaygo, he's more of an underground [artist], but some people might know.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
JW: #Relaxed. Relaxed, for sure.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
JW: Best piece of advice…probably just, “don't pay attention to your accomplishments and pay attention to your goals.”
PI: What is your dream NIL deal and why?
JW: PSD. PSD or Ethika ‘cause I wear PSD and Ethika all the time.
PI: Besides the NBA, where do you see yourself in five years?
JW: I have my own business, you know, probably a little sushi shop somewhere since I love sushi. But, yeah, be in the league and then outside of that, just taking care of my family.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
JW: Calm, joyful, caring, and hardworking.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
JW: As a person, I wanna be remembered for just always being relaxed. You know, always just telling people what it is and what it isn't. And then for basketball, it'd be really nice to be known to be a lockdown defender, but definitely I want everybody to know that I'm an elite scorer.