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Samarie Walker switch? May not be so crazy.

January 26, 2011 – 4:28 PM

Kentucky's athletic home page

By Laura Pappano

She is still wearing her UConn uniform, but Samarie Walker’s smiling face is already gracing the University of Kentucky’s athletic homepage.

The UConn freshman’s abrupt transfer (albeit after some bumpy months, says Swish Appeal), is spurring speculation and chatter (yes, Baylor fans like seeing UConn’s bench weakened).

How much of Walker’s transfer is purely personal?

How much is a statement about what it takes to play and be part of a national powerhouse?

Some thoughts on the move:

1UConn Kool-Aid is (Usually) Tasty and Long-Lasting: Everyone knows Geno Auriemma is tough, but like members of the Special Forces, those who sign on and are part of the experience embrace it – even long after they’ve graduated. Walker, who dreamed of UConn since 4th grade, was as poised to buy in as any recruit. Unknown:  What’s not perfect at the (nearly) perfect B-Ball program?

2. Homesick? They’re Playing Basketball blog suggests (quoting Walker’s club coach) that she was homesick and wanted to be closer to family. Her hometown of Dayton, Ohio is 625 miles from UConn – and just 58 miles from the University of Kentucky. No doubt, she’s nearer now. Yet, every year college freshmen leave home and while many are homesick for a few weeks, even a month, nearly all get settled in.

3. Young? Or is Walker just young? When she played in USA Basketball’s team trials in May 2009, she made the point of noting how much younger she was than the other players: “It was scary at first because I was like, ‘well, I’m only 16, all these girls are 18 and 19. Why are they choosing me? What did I do that’s so great that they would pick a junior in high school and all these girls are either going into college or are in college?’” Even if Walker may not be absurdly young to be a college freshman she: a) may feel young and b) may feel young given the high, nearly professional expectations of the team.

4. Burned out? Reporting all around Walker’s departure suggested that she was plain, flat out, sick of basketball (yet afraid to disappoint her parents). Transferring guarantees a bit of a breather. Takeaway for parents and coaches: Is young talent more vulnerable than we think?

5. The personal gain: Walker may have been a bench player at UConn, but she’ll be a star (if she wants to) at Kentucky. On one level, give her credit for doing what will make her happy. That’s a life lesson.

6. The big picture for women’s b-ball: Even if she can’t play for Kentucky (15-4, 3-2 conference) until spring 2011, Walker will likely have an immediate impact on recruiting. Will it change the landscape of women’s college b-ball? Unlikely, but if Samarie Walker-caliber players all across the country start thinking more about fit and lifestyle than national ranking, it could make for some interesting future March Madness play.

  1. 2 Responses to “Samarie Walker switch? May not be so crazy.”

  2. How about just wanting a challenge? I’m watching UCONN kick Duke’s butt 21-2, 10 minutes in. This (Duke)is the 3rd ranked team in the country and the disparity is overwhelming. What’s wrong with wanting to play with the underdogs? It’s like the 10 y.o. kid beating the 6 y.o. kid at…you name it ping-pong, tetherball- whatever. I’m a UCONN fan, but I welcome spreading the talent.

    By Keith on Jan 31, 2011

  3. Well i think Samarie made a great decision on her future how could you get national attention when you play on a team with Mya…… and i love you cousin always a winner in my book

    By Quinton Walker on Apr 7, 2011

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