When finally given the chance to comment on his latest prize recruit, Kansas State coach Bob Huggins lavished Bill Walker with some tremendous compliments.
K-State officially announced on Friday that Walker, whose high school eligibility had been exhausted, has enrolled as a part-time student and will be able to join the basketball team Dec. 16.
"It's really exciting to get a guy of his ability," said Huggins in a teleconference. "He has unquestionably been the most explosive prospect on the summer circuit the last couple of years and would probably be the best athlete on anybody's team. Plus, he's unselfish, defends and rebounds."
Ranked the No. 6 overall prospect and the No. 2 small forward in the class of 2006, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Walker could be the piece needed to help the veteran-laden Wildcats to their first NCAA Tournament since 1996. They went 15-13 last season.
"I think Bill will make his biggest impact defensively," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer said. "He can be a defensive stopper against top wings and also has the potential to guard bigger guys.
"His athleticism could also put their attack into another gear, and he will infuse the program with instant energy."
Walker cannot start practicing with the team until Dec. 16 and will be eligible to play in K-State's 10th game ? against Kennesaw State on Dec. 17.
"I might have concerns of a guy coming in mid-year if he wasn't such a great kid," Huggins said. "I know he'll fit in and the kids are going to like him. He's an extremely hard worker."
Few, if any coaches, know Walker better. The former University of Cincinnati coach has been long been pursuing Walker, and point guard O.J. Mayo, the No. 5-ranked senior. The duo led Cincinnati's North College Hill High to a pair of state titles.
Walker and Mayo - who remains uncommitted - grew up together in Huntington, W.Va., but that doesn't necessarily help the Wildcats' chances with Mayo. The standout guard is considering USC, Florida and K-State.
"I don't think you'll see much affect on Mayo from Walker's decision," Meyer said. "Bill has been expected to go to K-State for a long time."
Walker doesn't need Mayo to be part of one of the best and most intimidating tandems in college basketball. Power forward Michael Beasley (6-8, 235), the No. 1-ranked senior, has committed to the Wildcats. Beasley is expected to sign next week. The early signing period begins Wednesday.
"They would have two physical specimens as forwards with Bill and Michael," Meyer said. "Both are incredibly strong and explosive and it would be something else to watch them play ball together."