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Freshman Phenom

Walker makes mark on post-title team

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013

Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 01:01

walker

Matt Wong

Courtney Walker, Texas A&M's third leading scorer, leads the Aggies into the second half of their inaugural SEC season.

Coming out of high school, Courtney Walker was a focus of of girls’ college basketball coaches nationwide, but when she signed on with the A&M women’s basketball team, her motivation went beyond the 2010 NCAA National Championship banner. Walker wanted to be an engineer, and A&M owns one of the nation’s top engineering programs.

A two time state champion, No. 1 overall prospect in Oklahoma by ESPN HoopGurlz and the 2011-2012 Gatorade Oklahoma Player of the Year, Walker was also a member of the National Honor society and graduated with a 3.91 GPA. Walker said she knew A&M was the place for her once she made a visit.

“When I came here I loved the atmosphere,” Walker said. “I went to a football game and it was just amazing. Everybody was there, it seemed like, from the whole College Station community. I really liked that. I also liked the fact that [A&M has] a great engineering program and a great basketball team, so it was really just the whole package.”

During Walker’s summer years in high school, she played basketball for the DFW Elite club team alongside Chelsea Jennings, Curtyce Knox and Jordan Jones — winning the 2011 17-Under Nike Elite Nationals. Now, all four are members of the A&M women’s basketball team.

Walker said it’s comforting to play in college with players she is already familiar with.

“It’s really fun playing together,” Walker said. “We have a lot of chemistry together because we played together three or four years. It really helped us sync together because Jordan, Chelsea and I play the same positions we did when we played with DFW. It really helps our chemistry when we’re trying to learn Coach Blair’s system. It helps us out a lot.”

Longtime teammate A&M freshman guard Jordan Jones said they still have to perform big even though they’re only freshman.

“Basketball is basketball. Whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, senior, or junior if the coach is going to put you in the game, you have to perform the way the coach knows you can perform.”

Walker led her high school team to two state championships and the first-ever undefeated season in team history.

For some, athleticism doesn’t come naturally, but Walker has it in her genes. Her father and uncle both played college basketball and three of her cousins played college football — two of them eventually went on to play in the NFL.

Constantly surrounded by successful athletes, Walker had little choice but to be successful as well. Before the age of four she was already bouncing around a basketball at a local gym with her father while he worked out. Walker not only participated in basketball but lettered in track and field all four years in high school. She set a school record for the high jump and was state runner-up her junior and senior year.

For all her accomplishments, Walker said it was upsetting not winning the state title for high jump.

“My junior and senior year I went undefeated all year and then lost at state,” Walker said. “So I really wasn’t very happy because I beat the people earlier in the season that beat me at state.”

Walker still keeps in touch with her high school basketball coach and said even though she’s playing Division I basketball he still corrects her, including this season after a 63-51 win at Arkansas.

“After the game I got to talk to him and of course he still does what he does — ‘Do this, do that, don’t forget to jump-stop.’ But it was really fun getting to see him again especially after all he did for me in high school,” Walker said.

Walker averages 9.7 points — third-most on the team — and 3.8 rebounds per game in 29.1 minutes per game. A&M head coach Gary Blair said Walker is doing already doing a tremendous job.

“Walker has been playing extremely well,” Blair said. “Everybody wants to look at the scoreboard but why don’t you look at the stat sheet to see what other players are doing? She has to guard the other team’s best perimeter player every time and she does a great job.”

Walker came into A&M this year as a member of the highest-rated recruiting class in school history. With six other outstanding freshman on the team and junior All-American candidate Kelsey Bone leading the way, the rest of the season seems sure to be an entertaining one.

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