Scouting Outlook: Corey Walden
Corey Walden is new Partizan Belgrade addition at guard position. Corey is capable of playing both with and without ball in his hand and he will be teamed up with Nemanja Gordic, Marcus Paige and potentially two more additions. Former Eastern Kentucky player spent last season in Israel, playing with Hapoel Unet Holon and being crowned with Israeli Winner League MVP award. Unanimous opinion among coaches in Israel is that Corey improved quite a lot during last two seasons and that he was ready for next step. The very same was showed by his numbers: 18.5 ppg (58-41-88); AST/TO 5/3.2; 3.7 rpg.
During his college career (time at Eastern Kentucky) Corey established himself as awarded defender and all columns leader of his team. According to his college web page (ekusports.com) Corey achieved following results: “Walden closed out his career as one of the best in program history. In just three years as a Colonel, he scored 1,518 points, the ninth most-ever by a Colonel. The two-time OVC Defensive Player of the Year also broke the EKU career and single season records for steals. His 236 career steals broke Jamie Ross’ mark of 221 and is the fifth most-ever in OVC history”.
Corey Walden is strong, wide frame, 188 cm-86 kg guard. He has power and explosiveness to compete at highest level, but his speed and general agility are positioned little lower than elite. That doesn’t mean he is slow, just that he can’t compete in that area with lightening quick guards.
Corey Walden offense is built around highly improved pick and roll game, as well as improved shooting from different situations, and his versatility is not consumed only at pick and roll and shooting while he has ability for good off ball movement and transition game as well.
Corey is very versatile pick and roll player with ability to finish alone from the set or find some of his teammates. He is very strong and explosive at 1st step which gives him numerous solutions: to penetrate to the rim and score, find open teammate with his pass or take long/mid range jumper.
Corey is very strong penetrator, using his big body, to finish around the rim and in traffic as well. He is always looking for contact and 2+1 opportunity, but sometimes he loses balance and miss open lay up due the constant contact chase. As long/mid range shooter he is very effective. Release doesn’t look pretty nice, but his effectiveness is high. Finally, Corey’s passing in pick and roll is diverged towards 3 options: pass to spot up shooter, to pick and roll man and to player who is in cut move. Walden passing is risky and questionable at times, while he is making double-quick decisions being in rush.
Corey’s passing to spot up shooters is, in most cases, nicely timed. Still, his balls are directed bit too low and sometimes too strong, which doesn’t help shooter catch and release perfectly. This area should be improved as soon as possible, because it has seriously affected percentages of Walden teammates in Holon. Corey has nice vision, good sense for pick and roll and pop game and ability to find different angles and resolve all the possible defenses on him in pick and roll sets.
In general, pick and roll game of this player is not only improved the most in Israel, but also at truly high European level.
Another are in which Corey improved a lot is his shooting. His release is bit slower/lower, but very steady and truly effective from different spots on the floor. Corey’s catch and shoot ability is very good, stable and balance is nicely achieved with almost unlimited range. Shooting off-dribble is also improved a lot and Corey can knock down 2 and 3 pointers in row nowadays.
Shot selection is another area which would consume some time for additional work, while he can decide better in some situations and not hurry that much as in Israeli league, which is, to be honest, special due its pace and style of play.
Corey Walden transition game is mostly connected with his solid ball handling ability and general speed. He likes finishing cost to coast, going to traffic at times which cause turnovers or bad executed attacks. Also, slower decision making causes some troubles in open floor game, but in general Corey’s ability in transition is clearly at above average note.
Finally, Corey ability to be used as off ball player is highly connected with his good movement and understanding of game. He can be used as adequate cutter and this area of his game is, maybe, not used to the maximum extent so far.
Corey Walden last season in Israel was not ideal in terms of defense. He used too much energy up front, making uncharacteristic mistakes and lapses at defensive end. Still, his tools and defensive knowledge are facts to count on in individual and team defense in his new club.
His defensive work in pick and roll sets (depending of coaches wishes and tasks) is cornered around being active in recovery, always trying hard to go over screens or fight through them and good rotations which are trademark of this American. Corey is fighter who is rarely giving up in any sets, but that happens at times due his just average reading of situations and too much gamble at times.
His active hands and ability to steal cause up too much gambling at times which affects defensive set and cause easy buckets. Also, he is rarely late in rotations, but has bad habit of indecisive position of arms only mildly in the air which is often punished by elite opponent shooters.
Furthermore, Corey is not only active in contact and over screens while he always chases his man and covers ground in timely manner. Solid (but not elite) lateral quickness helps him and active hands cause troubles to opponent and always disturb their attacks.
The main task concerning his defense, due being decorated defender at NCAA level and above average in Belgium, is finding the right balance of his usage at both ends of the floor, which can prevent his defensive lapses and lack of concentration at times. Coach Trinchieri has specific task of polishing this player, while finding the best role for him in his defensive sets.
Corey Walden is multi-functional addition for Partizan Belgrade and player who can be used both in position and position-less basketball as very effective option. His versatility and size can help a lot in physical leagues such as ABA or EuroCup, while his constant improvements are sign of hard working and ready to learn spirit in this American guard.