Walker’s season fits not just because of his numbers, but how he did it.
He’s been more than just a go-to player, willing his team to victories and seizing the moment with a big shot, defender-splitting dish or run-him-down blocked shot, as he did against Kentucky in the national semifinals Saturday.
For Walker, it doesn’t matter how it gets done as long as his team gets a win.
“For how much (attention) he gets and for how much people talk about him, he seems really unselfish,” said Butler’s Ronald Nored, one of the players who likely will get a turn at trying to stop Walker in the title game. “That’s really admirable. It’s great to have guys like that who are in our game.”
Walker has been just as valuable, if not more, off the court.
When the players are away from the watchful eye of Calhoun, Walker is like a cord back to the coach, making sure everyone keeps their focus. He also became a leader without announcing it, his cool-but-confident constitution naturally dropping his teammates in line behind him.
“(It) is an unusual gift that Kemba has,” Calhoun said. “It’s funny. He walked out of the breakfast room yesterday morning, we just finished our meal. There was Kemba and about six guys following him. It just so happened it ended up that way. It was just the way they were leaving, but I thought to myself as I saw that, that’s kind of who we are and what we are in many, many ways.”
Walker is an All-America player, the undisputed leader of an improbable run to the title game _ the Huskies were picked 10th in the Big East preseason poll _ and the most dynamic player this side of Jimmermania.
But does he deserve an invite to UConn’s one-name club?
“I don’t know yet,” Walker said. “I guess coming from (Calhoun), it’s a special honor. He’s coached some great players. We have a lot of great history in this program and to be mentioned with those guys is amazing.”
Win Monday night, and the conversation could start with one name: Kemba.