Raptors draft Baylor guard Ja’Kobe Walter

TORONTO – Ja’Kobe Walter has never been to Canada, but when he arrives in Toronto, he’ll be looking to make an immediate impression.

Walter was drafted 19th overall by the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the NBA Draft on Wednesday. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound guard from McKinney, Texas, said he had high expectations when he joined his new team.

“I’m just trying to make an immediate impact any way I can,” Walter said during a video conference from the draft floor in New York City. “Whatever they need from me when I come in, I’m going to do it for them and just try to bring that winning intensity.”

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Walter averaged 14.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists as a freshman for the Baylor Bears last season. He said he hoped to blend in seamlessly with the Raptors’ young core of Scottie Barnes, Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett of Mississauga, Ont.

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“I’ve seen them all play in college and in the NBA,” said Walter, who didn’t coach for the Raptors before being drafted by the team. “Scottie is a man with a great personality, you know what he brings to the team: all the energy. RJ same with him, he can score the ball really well and then Quickley is just a great point guard.

“I think I will be a good fit for them and I am super excited.”

Walter’s first name Ja’Kobe – pronounced juh-KOH’-bee – is a combination of the names of all-time greats Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. The 19-year-old laughed that given his name, it was destined that he would eventually be drafted into the NBA.

“Me and my family have talked about this for a long time. I have prayed so many times for this moment, right here,” Walter said. “So now that it’s finally here, it’s just dreams coming true and I’m just grateful.”

Toronto also has the first pick of the second round, No. 31 overall. The second round of the NBA Draft starts on Thursday afternoon.

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France’s Zaccharie Risacher was selected first overall by the Atlanta Hawks.

Zach Edey was selected ninth overall in the NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies. The 22-year-old center from Toronto is the first Canadian to be drafted this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 26, 2024.

&copy 2024 The Canadian Press

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