Aaron Walker, whose stock rose at SNY Invitational, will remain in New York for his college career, as Cardozo product signed letter of intent to play for Manhattan. (Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News)
In his five years as head coach, Steve Masiello has built his Manhattan program around tough New York guards who embody the philosophy of his teams on and off the floor.
Today, another local talent has pledged to write his own chapter to the legacy in Riverdale as Aaron Walker, who plied his wares at Cardozo High School in Bayside this past season, signed his National Letter of Intent with the Jaspers, becoming the newest member of Manhattan's 2016 recruiting class.
"He's a warrior," said Walker's high school coach, Ron Naclerio. "He hasn't scratched the surface of his potential yet, and the way Steve plays, there's no better recruit at the guard position than Aaron."
The 6-foot-1 Walker averaged 19 points per game in the regular season for Cardozo, supplementing his offense with over six rebounds and four assists per contest as he led the Judges into the PSAL playoffs. He will slide into a Manhattan backcourt that undergoes a transition of sorts next season, as the Jaspers bid adieu to four-year stalwart RaShawn Stores while welcoming Walker and Zavier Turner, who sat out this past season after transferring from Ball State.
"They did the best job recruiting him," Naclerio said of the Manhattan staff. "They showed the most love. Steve really did a great job and made him feel loved, and I think Aaron felt that. The way he was hawking him, he was like a young kid that liked the girl and kept calling the girl."
A late bloomer on the recruiting trail, Walker caught the attention of many with his MVP performance at the SNY Invitational, which raised his profile beyond his early suitors. But while several programs at higher levels threw out their overtures, the budding star showed a loyalty to his new coach in much the same vein that Masiello has defended his players, sticking with the Jaspers throughout the recruiting process, which began when Masiello offered Walker a scholarship last October.
"He's a great kid to coach," said Naclerio of Walker. "The one thing that I hate is seeing kids you grow so tight with move on, but that's part of coaching. The one good thing is I'll be able to watch him play in college whenever I want."