The more CJ Walker got to know about Ohio State under coach Chris Holtmann, the more everything just seemed to make sense.
So before the Florida State transfer got on a plane to head home Sunday morning following his weekend official visit, he gave Holtmann the news that he would be committing to the program.
“He was very excited,” Walker told The Dispatch. “I told him this was the place I wanted to be and he was like, ‘Are you serious? You really want to commit?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I do.’ He got that grin on his face and it felt really good knowing coach Holtmann needed me, not just wanted me. It meant a lot to him and me.”
The news went public Sunday at 5 p.m., when Walker posted a graphic of himself wearing a No. 11 Ohio State jersey to his personal Twitter page. A former four-star recruit from Indianapolis, Walker will sit out the upcoming season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules but have two years of remaining eligibility starting with the 2019-20 season.
My family and I have came to a great decision! With that being said I would like to say I have committed to The Ohio State University! pic.twitter.com/9RLrlfECy6— Cj Walker (@Cj_Walker1) April 8, 2018
He chose the Buckeyes over a number of other programs that reached out in the immediate aftermath of his decision to leave the Seminoles, roughly three years after he picked them over Holtmann and his staff at Butler. What was a loss for the Bulldogs at the time proved to be a win for the Buckeyes in the end.
“It was just the opportunity that was available to me, being a player and fitting into the program and the system and knowing coach Holtmann and coach Terry (Johnson) when they were at Butler,” Walker said. “That relationship, the organization and the program in general. The way coach Holtmann holds his team accountable and the way he coaches, I feel like I fit what he needs very well and can be that point guard.”
Walker has a bona fide opportunity for significant playing time once he is eligible. Ohio State’s primary point guard, C.J. Jackson, is entering his senior season, and the Buckeyes add two freshmen combo guards this year in Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington.
All three could potentially be on the court together, but Walker is the lone true point guard on the roster.
“It was a big thing,” he said of the depth chart. “That’s something you won’t see at a lot of big-time universities at this level. Seeing that opportunity was a thing to take advantage of while I was there, because not too many times will major programs have that kind of opportunity to have that big of an opening.”
While on his official visit, Walker said he got to tour Ohio State’s campus for the first time, meet with academic advisors, spend time with Holtmann and Johnson and also watch the team go through a little workout. It was the only visit he took after leaving Florida State.
247Sports.com ranked Walker as the No. 4 overall prospect from Indiana, the No. 24 point guard in the country and the nation’s No. 113 overall prospect for the class of 2016. Last season, the 6-0, 185-pound Walker was Florida State’s fourth-leading scorer at 8.0 points per game as the team’s starting point guard. He also averaged 2.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists for the Seminoles, but he started losing playing time to a classmate late in the season before announcing his decision to transfer after Florida State’s season ended in the Elite Eight.
Presuming that senior former walk-on Joey Lane remains on scholarship, Ohio State now has one roster spot remaining for next season that it is targeting for a graduate transfer who can play immediately and help shore up its backcourt.
In the interim, Walker said he’s looking to make an impact.
“(I want to) make a statement that I want to be a leader on the team,” he said. “Put that out there first and help with the freshmen and the younger guys. I can give them experience from what I’ve been through the last two years. To be able to help them with the different pace, how it’s going to be, how the coaching staff is going to be different, and just be there for the team in general. Be a hype man, whatever I have to do while I’m not playing, do that and work out and improve my body, my quickness, my athleticism and stay consistent with myself and be there for the team throughout my redshirt year.”