Andrew Frosceno, Staff Writer
Ben Hansbrough of Notre Dame was named the Big East Player of the Year and many college basketball analysts name Duke’s Nolan Smith and BYU’s Jimmer Fredette as the National Player’s of the Year. In reality no one player has been more important to his team than UConn guard Kemba Walker.
Walker, who is average 23.6 points per game this season through UConn’s second round game against Cincinnati while playing 37.5 minutes per game, according
to the team’s web site. Walker rarely comes out of games.
So far during the two NCAA tournament games Walker has sat just around three total minutes of the 80 minutes UConn has played.
Watching nearly every UConn game this season it has become clear to me that Walker has more heart and more will than any UConn player I have seen in my lifetime.
After a terrible season for UConn’s standards last season and after losing three seniors it was beginning to look like UConn was going to go into a gloomy period of a few years. But Walker, who had worked with the United States team this summer, with NBA players like Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, lead him to come to campus, this fall, with a newfound confidence and leadership qualities.
With all due respect to Fredette and Smith, they have not done what Walker has done, with what little he has around him to go with the competition he faces.
Walker carried a team of freshmen and sophomores to the Maui Invitational championship and throughout the first half of the season until the freshmen became more acclimated to the level of competition at the collegiate level.
UConn’s roster contains two scholarship seniors who are just role players, two sophomores, and six freshmen, five of which see significant playing time. All these young players have been looking up to Walker all year. One of which, Shabaaz Napier, seems to be the heir apparent to Walker when and if he leaves for the NBA after this season. Walker isn’t just a cocky superstar, he wants to help the youngsters out and get them involved on the court. Also the young players trust Walker with the ball in his hands with the game on the line.
Numerous times this season, Walker has hit the game winning shot in the waning seconds. In Maui against Wichita State and Michigan State he hit huge shots in the final minute.
Against Texas on the road, he hit a step back jumper to give UConn the lead with five seconds left, he also did this against Villanova.
His biggest shot came in the Big East Tournament against Pittsburgh as time expired sending MSG into frenzy.
As a lifetime UConn fan I will never forget the run UConn made in the Big East tournament this year.
Five wins in five days to be crowned champions. Walker left his heart and soul on the court in New York City as he made MSG his personal playground.
TV cameras constantly showed Walker struggling to catch his breath and grimacing at numerous injuries but he never came out and never slowed down as UConn beat Louisville to be Big East Champions.
That was no fluke either as he continued to do it against Cincinnati, scoring 33 points with a banged up wrist and knee.
As fans, we ask our players to give all the effort they can to help the team win. With Walker this season, UConn fans have been spoiled with more than that. We have been blessed to see a player give the effort and show the passion that Kemba Walker has shown and will continue to show until the buzzer sounds on UConn’s season.
Opinion: UConn will go as far as Kemba takes them
Andrew Frosceno, Staff Writer