Miami Hurricanes’ Lonnie Walker (ankle) expected to play in hometown against La Salle

MIAMI, FL – NOVEMBER 16: Lonnie Walker IV #4 of the Miami Hurricanes is helped off the court by Ebuka Izundu #15 and head athletic trainer Javier Jimenez during the first half against the Florida A&M Rattlers at The BankUnited Center on November 16, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

Lonnie Walker is ready for his Reading return.

UM’s most heralded freshman, a hero in his Pennsylvania hometown for lifting his public high school to its first state championship, is expected to play when the 11th-ranked Hurricanes (3-0) play La Salle in Reading on Wednesday.

Friday morning, UM released a statement on Twitter that said Walker “twisted his left ankle” in the first half of Thursday’s 90-59 win over Florida A&M. “After further evaluation,” the tweet said, “Walker had no swelling and is expected to play” in the upcoming game.

Following the game, Walker said he would be OK.

UM coach Jim Larranaga didn’t have complete information Thursday, but was optimistic.

“We won’t know for a couple of days, but I think he’s fine,” Larranaga said. “I’m sure he’ll be ready.”

Walker, who had surgery in July to fix a torn meniscus in his right knee, got tangled with a defender’s foot after missing a 3-point attempt. He collapsed to the court and immediately was assisted to the locker room. Walker had five points in 10 minutes when he left the game.

Widely projected as a potential NBA first-round draft pick in 2018, Walker bucked the trend of leaving public school for an elite private program. He also opted to play for the Hurricanes rather than schools like Arizona, Kentucky, Syracuse and hometown Villanova, which was coming off a national title. He signed with Miami a year ago Thursday, becoming arguably the most ballyhooed player ever to sign with the program.

The game against La Salle (3-0) was moved from 3,400-seat Tom Gola Arena to Santander Arena in Reading, which can seat up to 8,000 for basketball. The state title Walker won with Reading last March, in Pennsylvania’s Class 6A, came at Hershey’s Giant Center in front of a reported “record crowd of 9,531.” Another story said the arena was “packed to the gills” with Reading High fans.

This might be a unique road environment: friendly to Miami, despite being about an hour northwest of La Salle.

When Walker was a recruit, Miami took trips in a booster-provided private jet to see him and build a relationship. Despite the injury scare, he’ll be on the team plane for this homecoming.

MIAMI, FL – NOVEMBER 12: Lonnie Walker IV #4 of the Miami Hurricanes drives to the basket during the second half against the Navy Midshipmen at The Watsco Center on November 12, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s