TURIN, Italy, March 27, 2011—There are many popular players in college basketball. Jimmer Fredette and all his refined offensive skill makes the freshly scrubbed Mormons yelp the phrase, “Wowzers!”
Derrick Williams, looking like he would easily conquer Spartan warfare, brings down the house with his raucous jams.
There are bigger stories in college basketball. Bigger than the NBA.
Reaching the Final Four very much against all odds, the mid-major kids from Butler, with underwhelming egos but gargantuan fight, see their improbable dream yet again come to true. The 11th-seeded VCU knocks off first-seeded Kansas in the Elite Eight, reaching their first Final Four in program history.
But hear this: there is no one who “gets” the meaning of March Madness more than UCONN’s fearless leader, Kemba Walker.
It’s sad, but true; college basketball has become dominated by one hit wonders. Most of its stars are guys dreaming not of cutting down the nets at the Final Four, but seizing their first fat NBA paycheck. Freshman cycle in and out, making a brief impact then immediately heading for greener pastures. The very concept of “team” has been diminished to a rotating door of peached-fuzzed egos.
Kemba Walker, a seasoned junior, knows that all too well. He plays the point for one of the nation’s premier teams, UCONN, in the nation’s most premier conference, the Big East. He laces his sneakers and hits the floor against all kinds of long-armed wunderkinds every game day.
You’d think that would make a player with Walker’s talent a bit jaded. After all, he’s taken the time to build his game from the bottom up, adding more versatility to his arsenal with each passing summer, Others, meanwhile, bypass the hard work, get on SportsCenter a couple times and end up a lottery pick.
But Walker hasn’t folded. He’s worked both diligently and fiercely to ready his game for that vaunted next step, and boy, from watching him run aimlessly around the court his freshman year, I can tell you it’s worked. Walker’s range from three rivals most Green Beret snipers. Defenders ice their ankles after games from his implausibly quick cuts to the lane. His step-back jumper is so polished you’d think it was his job.
Someday. But for now, Walker will take what’s in front of him: the 2011 Final Four. His hard work has paid big dividends; Walker has, at points singlehandedly, driven his Huskies back to college basketball’s most prestigious platform.
I think he’ll take that over being drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats any day of the week.
Read more of Sam Bovard’s work at Balls Without Discretion in the Communities at The Washington Times.
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