Skip to main content

Jarace Walker exclusive: On his early time with the Indiana Pacers, gaming, development, and more

Walker is currently making his Pacers debut in Las Vegas
  • Author:
  • Updated:

LAS VEGAS — Jarace Walker is already showing everybody what he is capable of in NBA Summer League play. In just his first game, Walker turned heads with eight points, 13 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and three blocks in a win. He looked comfortable in his first outing donning an Indiana Pacers uniform.

"The defensive end, he was great," Pacers Summer League head coach Jannero Pargo said of Walker's debut. "He can really move his feet. Protecting the rim some. Really versatile guy."

Walker was selected by the Pacers with the eighth overall pick in June's NBA Draft. The hope is that the Baltimore native can be the long-term solution for the blue and gold at the power forward spot, and his defense and playmaking upside give him a chance to be that player.

AllPacers was able to catch up with Walker in Las Vegas for a one-on-one conversation. The Pacers rookie was attending a private event hosted by the Call of Duty video game franchise. During the first weekend of NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, some NBA rookies and veterans participated in a Call of Duty Two-Minute Drill competition at the Call of Duty War Room suite to find out which player has the most skill in the game.

About 100 NBA players, including Walker, participated in the competition. Oklahoma City's Jaylin Williams emerged as the champion, and he received a $10K prize. Event attendees also got an ultra-exclusive preview of the unannounced 2023 Call of Duty game launching this fall.

Jarace Walker Indiana Pacers

Walker has been into gaming for much of his life, and Call of Duty has been one of his favorites. He also enjoys NBA2K, Fortnite, and Madden, but he hasn't had the chance to play as himself in 2K yet. That time will come.

After sharing his gaming interests, Walker discussed many different topics about his NBA career so far, his early summer league play, his new Pacers teammates, and much more. Note that some questions have been edited for brevity.

AllPacers: Now that you're three weeks removed from being drafted, have you felt like anyone's been particularly helpful for you in the transition to the pros?

Jarace Walker: I would just say the coaching staff. Just being so supportive, helping me learn. They've also been pushing me every day just to get better. So just their support and consistency with holding me accountable is definitely helping me out.

AllPacers: [Pacers general manager] Chad Buchanan likened you to a linebacker with your shoulder build. Did you play any other sports growing up? And when and why did you pick basketball as the one you wanted to focus on and play?

Jarace Walker: I played football and soccer when I was younger. I would say I kinda shut down football and soccer probably around like second, third grade. It's because I had so much fun hoopin. It was the most fun out of all of those sports. So I felt like that's what I wanted to go with.

AllPacers: Was there a moment when you were like 'Okay, I'm good enough at this for the NBA'?

Jarace Walker: I would say probably around high school. Just being able to compete and hang with all those high-level, talented guys I was playing with and against.

AllPacers: Now that you've had a day to kind of sit on it and think about it, how have you felt about last night and your debut with this team? And what do you want to do better going forward?

Jarace Walker: I feel like it was decent. I feel like I did a little bit of everything. I feel like I've just got to, offensively, just shoot the ball better. Just make better plays.

AllPacers: A lot was made of your defensive abilities in the pre-draft process. Was last night kinda what you hope to show in every NBA game? Is that the blueprint for what you feel like you'll do?

Jarace Walker: For sure. Just contributing in multiple ways. Scoring, passing, rebounding, defending. Just showcasing my versatility day-in and day-out.

AllPacers: In what ways has Rick Carlisle been helpful for you so far?

Jarace Walker: Just really coaching. Just helping me learn and develop my game. Reading defenses. Pick and roll reads. Shooting. A little bit of everything.

AllPacers: [Carlisle] loves little moments of teaching various skills with younger players. Have you had a moment with him that was particularly impactful for you? Or something he's helped you with that you've been really trying to focus on?

Jarace Walker: Yeah, for sure. Just shooting. Just getting extra shots up after practice or after a workout or anything. Just working on my touch or my feel.

AllPacers: Have you had a 'welcome, I'm in the NBA' moment? Has the reality of being a pro set in for you yet? Or does it still feel new and fresh?

Jarace Walker: It's definitely new and fresh. I've only played one game here and it's not even the real deal. I feel like it's going to hit a little harder when the season comes around.

AllPacers: How have you felt about your offensive development just in these three weeks? In those moments working with Rick on your shot and with your team in general at the pro level?

Jarace Walker: I feel good. I feel good offensively. I feel like I definitely can contribute a little bit more on that end. Being better and making better reads.

AllPacers: How have you developed your relationship with Ben Sheppard so far? Have you guys grown close at all, what have you gotten to know about him?

Jarace Walker: He's definitely an outside guy. Real upbeat. Happy. Just real easy to get along with. We definitely gel, we're definitely cool for sure.

AllPacers: I was talking to Brian Nash about your time at IMG Academy... How do you feel like IMG helped you in your path to the pros?

Jarace Walker: I feel like IMG was a big help. Big help. Just in terms of what I needed to get better at, but also developing. Playing around really talented guys, getting coached harder. Playing on a national stage, national schedule. So I feel like it was just everything I was looking for.

AllPacers: Is it nice for you to have guys like [Bennedict Mathurin], [Andrew Nembhard], and [Isaiah Jackson] who have been there, done that with Summer League? Have they been useful for you in terms of this process so far?

Jarace Walker: For sure. They've made it such an easy transition. Just being able to experience the floor with [Nembhard] and [Mathurin], [they're] always getting downhill, making reads, spreading the ball out. Obviously Isaiah down there just holding it down. It's been great playing with these guys. They've definitely made the game easy.

Walker and the Pacers next play later tonight in Summer League against the Orlando Magic.

  • Tyrese Haliburton commits to people. Now, he's committed to the Indiana Pacers. CLICK HERE.
  • Bruce Brown can be whatever the Indiana Pacers need him to be. CLICK HERE.
  • Obi Toppin discusses joining the Indiana Pacers, how he will fit in, and more. CLICK HERE.
  • Indiana Pacers wing Chris Duarte officially traded to Sacramento Kings for two second-round draft picks. CLICK HERE.
  • Follow AllPacers on Facebook: All Pacers SI
  • Follow AllPacers on Twitter: @SIPacers