Five-star forward Jarace Walker committed to Houston on Thursday, giving the Cougars men's basketball team a program-record three ESPN 100 commitments in the 2022 class.
Houston targeted Walker early in the process and hosted him on an official visit in June. The university came out of the summer looking like the favorite for Walker and maintained that advantage throughout the fall.
Walker chose the Cougars over Alabama and Auburn.
"There is great energy around the program and everyone gets along," Walker told ESPN. "On my visit, it felt like a family with the staff and players. My family connected with the staff and the players really well. Their Final Four success and their program winning at the college level was definitely a factor."
Walker came away impressed by head coach Kelvin Sampson throughout his recruitment.
"It will be great to pick his brain each day about the game," Walker said. "His NBA experience is impressive. He is a legend in the college game. His name is really big in the basketball world. He is such a good defensive coach and he showed me how they get their shooters open for shots. Their skill development was important for me to play at the next level."
Walker, a 6-foot-8 power forward who plays at IMG Academy (Florida), is ranked No. 19 in the ESPN 100 -- and he's considered the No. 1 power forward in the class.
Walker can impact games with his physical strength and offensive skill. He is best from the midrange, facing up, and can operate effectively from the pinch-post area as a driver and shooter.
When Walker plays from the inside out, he can be a true mismatch for defenders. He is capable of both sitting on the low block and demanding the ball in the post, as well as functioning as the ball handler or the screener in second-side ball-screen actions.
At the rim, Walker finishes with power and authority, and at the high post, he displays agility with the ball to shoot one- or two-dribble pull-ups with excellent touch. As gifted as he is on the offensive end of the court, if he can be even more committed to the defensive end, it would enhance his game.
"We are expecting big things from Jarace this season," IMG Academy coach Sean McAloon said. "Not only on the court, but from a leadership standpoint. In terms of improvement, he has finally embraced his body and understanding of starting in the lane and working from there. He's had an impressive fall from that standpoint, and we expect that to carry over for the year."
Walker is the third ESPN 100 commitment in Houston's 2022 class, joining perimeter players Emanuel Sharp (No. 60) and Terrance Arceneaux (No.70). It's the first time since ESPN's recruiting database began in 2007 that the Cougars have three top-100 recruits.
He's also Houston's first five-star commit since Danuel House, also ranked No. 19, picked the Cougars back in the 2012 class.