Even as a freshman, Walker was the unquestioned locker room and court leader for the Huskies, and he proved to be one of the program's greats in carrying a young squad to the 2010-11 NCAA national championship as a junior.
His career accomplishments set him apart from most past Husky legends.
The "gunslinger" finished seventh on the Husky all-time record list with 1,783 points scored, but also showed his unselfish side, as his 460 assists rank tenth in school annals. On the way to the national title, Walker set school records for most minutes played (1,543), most field goals made (316) and attempted (739), most free throws made (258) and attempted (315).
Walker became just the third player in school history to join the "800 Club," as his 965 points in 2010-11 established a Connecticut season mark. His 184 assists as a junior placed ninth on the school single-season record chart and his 77 steals are good for fifth on the annual record list. His scoring average of 23.537 points per game ranked fifth in the NCAA Division I ranks and fourth on the UConn single-season list, while his 77 steals ranked 51st nationally.
Connecticut secured Walker's services for the 2008-09 season after a stellar career at Rice High School, where he earned Parade and McDonald's All-American honors as a senior. He averaged 18.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 3.3 steals per game as a senior. He was named to the 2008 U-18 USA Team and was the FIBA Americas Tournament MVP after averaging 13.4 points, 5.0 assists and 4.6 rebounds.
Walker's impact on the program was felt immediately. He made the Big East Conference's All-Rookie team as a freshman and started just two of his 36 games, but averaged 8.9 points per game, shooting 47 percent from the field and delving out 104 assists to go with 38 steals.
As a sophomore, Walker was a USBWA All-District first-team and All-Big East third-team choice. He took over point guard duties, finishing 30th in the nation with his 70 steals, finishing 44th in the Division I ranks with 172 assists in 2009-10. He averaged 14.6 points per game, hitting on 76.7 percent of his free throws and 40.3 percent of his field goals.
In 2010-11, Walker was named the USBWA District I Player of the Year. The consensus All-American and Bob Cousy Award winner (nation's top point guard), the junior scored a school season-record 965 points (23.5 ppg) to go with 184 assists, 77 steals while making 316-of-739 field goal attempts.
"I told him it's time for him to move on. Just like he will this summer when he completes all his school work, he'll graduate. He's graduating basketball-wise too. It's an incredible happy day for all of us and his incredibly wonderful family and for Kemba," said head coach Jim Calhoun.
"He's ready to move on as a man. He's ready to move on as a basketball player -- emotionally and physically. He's completed the finest basketball season in the history of this University. He's done everything humanly possible you can do, including a National Championship," added Calhoun.
Connecticut enshrined Walker into the Huskies of Honor at the National Championship pep rally in Gampel Pavilion. His name now hangs on the wall along with all-time greats Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor, Richard Hamilton and Calhoun.
Positives: Walker lacks size and strength but compensates with an explosive initial step and plays with a "big man's" attitude and fearlessness Has no hesitation attacking the rim and when he plays in control, he is quite effective finding open targets off his penetration More of a "highlight reel" type of player who wants the ball in key moments and has the fortitude to take and make the crucial shot Not strong, but is scrappy and active with his hands to steal the ball Has shown marked improvement with his jumper, as he can force the defender to bite too early with hesitation moves and fakes Is still a work in progress in terms of shot selection, but when he sets his feet, his smooth and effortless motion pulling up for jumpers and his first step to blow by stationary defenders will make him a headache to defend Gets bounced out but is aggressive getting into the paint and has natural instincts to execute the pick-and-roll Shows good balance and a burst on the open court and when he keeps the ball low, he can deliver crisp passes to open outlets Has excellent court speed and leaping ability (39.5-inch vertical) and can fly past the slower defender in attempts to gain separation while slashing to the basket Has a nice array of hesitation moves, pump fakes and stutter-step action to force his opponent to commit rather than face up to him when operating along the perimeter Sets his feet well and shows good form elevating to get off his jump shot Shows the hand quickness to keep the ball on the floor or pull up and fire off the dribble before his man has a chance to get into position to defend More of a rhythm passer, but when he starts connecting, he scores in bunches Gets pushed around by bigger opponents, is a scrappy defender with the lateral range to get into the passing lane in attempts to steal the ball Might get pushed around on the boards, but is slippery enough to get under his man when fighting for the rebound (averaged 4.44 rebounds per game during his career) When he remains in control, he has better passing ability and good timing getting the ball to the open outlet with precision Has good patience, but needs to show the same characteristic as a shooter (sometimes gets too selfish with the ball) Likes to push the ball up court quickly and has the timed speed to lead an up tempo attack Does a nice job pulling up and firing the ball in transition, as he compensates for an lack of power to drive into the paint Favors his right hand when shooting, but has a nice floater that he executes with consistency coming off the cut Better passer from the baseline on dish-and-drive plays.
Negatives: Lack of size is a decisive disadvantage -- will not be able to match up defensively vs. the bigger NBA guards Unselfish player but gets "tunnel vision," taking ill-advised shots Turnover-prone (assist totals have kept his ratio down, but ranked 90th in the nation with a 1.98 assist/turnover ratio last year) Forces the issue and rather than pass the ball off, he will continue to hoist the ball up and goes through long stretches of searching for his own shot In one six-game midseason span, he made just 38-of-123 field goal attempts and despite earning NCAA Tournament MVP honors, he was just 43-of-107 in six postseason contests Needs to be more alert -- most of his turnovers come when the defense challenges him in tight areas or when he over-dribbles Gets bounced around in traffic and along with his bad shot selection, most of his shots are blocked when he shoots from the hip rather than pull up, elevate and execute a jumper Has marginal shooting mechanics and inconsistent range with his jumper Needs to set his feet better and execute with a quicker release from the perimeter (shot just 32.6 percent from 3-point range during his career) Too conscious of trying to draw fouls and needs to kick the ball out when triangled in by defenders in the paint Does not have the strength or leg drive to play a consistent inside game Has a lot of Stephon Marbury in his game (shoot first, pass later) as a point guard Plays out of control and tries to compensate for his defensive liabilities and short stature with his lateral quickness taking on other guards, but will get wild with his hands, drawing foolish fouls.
Compares To: AARON BROOKS, Phoenix Suns -- Walker can be sensational and carry the team's offense for long stretches, but he will also go through periods where his poor shot selection and shoot-first mentality can be detrimental. He's undersized, but like Brooks, Brandon Jennings and Tony Parker, he can compensate for size deficiencies with his foot speed and exceptional lateral movement. In the right system, Walker can develop into a pretty decent point guard, but he needs a strict coach, or he could end up becoming more of an anchor than a rudder. Walker is an efficient passer, but plays with a shoot-first attitude that you usually associate with a shooting guard. He is not a dangerous shooter from NBA 3-point range at this stage. Better suited as a combo guard, but with his power and height deficiencies, he is might be better served getting a few minutes off the bench rather than being the team's primary floor general as a rookie.
--Dave Te' Thomas
Recipient of the Lute Olson and Bob Cousy awards Consensus All-American first-team selection Added All-Big East Conference first-team accolades and winner of the Dave Gavitt Trophy, given to the MVP of the Big East Tournament Named to the NCAA Final Four All-Tournament team, in addition to being selected the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Also chosen the Maui Invitational MVP Started all 41 games at point guard, setting school season-records for most points scored (965), most minutes played (1,543), most field goals made/attempted (316-of-739) and most free throws made/ attempted (258-of-315) Ranked fifth in the nation with a 23.537-point average, the fourth-best season average by a Husky player Ranked 51st nationally with 77 steals, the fifth-best season total in school annals Grabbed 223 rebounds (5.4 rebounds per game) and handed out 184 assists (4.49 assists per game), but had a team-high 93 turnovers Was a top-five finalist for the Wooden and Naismith Awards Was one of only two players in the nation to average 20 points, five rebounds and four assists per game.
All-Big East Conference third-team choice First-team All-District choice by the USBWA
Started all 34 games at pint guard, hitting on 152-of-377 field goals (40.3 percent), 38-of-112 three-pointers (33.9 percent) and 155-of-202 free throws (76.7 percent) scored 497 points, an average of 14.62 points per game Ranked 30th in the nation with 70 steals (2.1 steals per game) and 44th with 172 assists (5.06 assists per game) grabbed 145 rebounds (4.27 rebounds per game), but had a career-high 99 turnovers to go with 59 personal fouls.
Member of the Big East Conference All-Rookie team Appeared in 36 games, starting twice at point guard Scored 321 points (8.92 ppg) behind 110-of-234 field goals (47.0 percent), 13-of-48 treys (27.1 percent) and 88-of-123 free throws (71.5 percent) Had 125 rebounds (3.47 rebounds per game), 104 assists (2.89 assists per game) and 38 steals (1.06 steals per game) Turned the ball over 66 times while logging 907 minutes of action Started the win over Hartford and registered 21 points and five rebounds.
During the summer of 2010, Walker was one of ten collegiate athletes named to the USA Select Team that trained with the U.S. National Team from August 10-13th in preparation for the 2010 World Championships.
Walker started 77-of-111 games at Connecticut, including each of his final 75 contests, as he scored 1,783 points in 3,649 minutes on the court, making 578-of-1,350 field goals (42.8 percent), including 126-of-387 (32.6 percent) from three-point range Connected on 501-of-640 free throws (78.3 percent), as he grabbed 493 rebounds (4.4 rebounds per game), including 116 offensive boards Handed out 460 assists (4.1 assists per game), as he had 185 steals (1.7 steals per game) and 28 blocked shots His 501 free throws made topped the old school career-record of 496 by Corny Thompson (1979-82) Averaged 1.67 steals per game, the fifth-best all-time average in UConn annals, as his 185 steals are the sixth-highest career total by a Husky Ranks 10th in school history with 460 assists and seventh with 1,783 points scored Established numerous season-records in 2010-11, as he made 316-of-739 field goals, hit on 258-of-315 free throws, scored 965 points (only player in UConn annals to join the 900-point Club) and logged 1,543 minutes of court time His 965 points shattered the old school mark of 855 by Donyell Marshall (1993-94) Ray Allen (818; 1995-96) was the only other Husky to score over 800 points in a season His scoring average of 23.537 points as a junior is the fourth-best annual average in school history His 316 successful field goals topped Marshall's previous school season-record of 307 (1993-94), while Walker's 258 free throws made surpassed Marshall's old UConn mark of 200 (1993-94).
Attended Rice (Harlem, N.Y.) High School, earning McDonald's and Parade All-American honors after averaging 18.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 3.3 steals per game as a senior Named to 2008 U-18 USA Team and was the FIBA Americas Tournament MVP after averaging 13.4 points, 5.0 assists, and 4.6 rebounds per game.
General Studies major Son of Andrea and Paul Walker Born Kemba Hudley Walker on 5/08/90 in Bronx, New York.
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