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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

UConn signee Megan Walker named Naismith national player of year

UConn incoming freshman Megan Walker capped her brilliant senior season with an undefeated season and third straight state championship. One of her rewards is being awarded one of the most prestigious honors.

Walker was named the winner of the Naismith Trophy becoming eighth former, current or future Husky to win the award joining Tamika Williams, Diana Taurasi, Ann Strother, Maya Moore, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Breanna Stewart and Katie Lou Samuelson. She also joins La'Keshia Frett and Kara Lawson as the only Virginia high school players to win the award.

“Megan is so deserving of this award. She holds herself to a maturity level of people many years her senior. She is humble yet confident, and is always helping everyone on the team improve,” said Larry Starr, Monacan High School coach in a release. “Megan is a great teammate, leader, and person and will represent the Naismith Trophy with dignity and class.”

Walker averaged 25.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game and saved her best for last with 18 points in a 60-59 win over King's Fork in the Virginia 4A title game including the game-winning basket with 14 seconds left to play.

Walker had six 30-point games and nine double-doubles as a senior and helped Monacan end the season on a 53-game winning streak.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma made his way down to Walker's final game at Monacan so he witnessed Walker's brilliant fourth-quarter performance.

"There is not a lot that Meg can't do," Auriemma said. "I am looking forward to getting her up here, let's put it that way. When you are her size (6-foot-1) you are not limited to just one thing. She is like Lou (Katie Lou Samuelson), not as tall but you can put her anywhere on the floor and be successful. It is just a matter of repetition and being put in the situation where you aren't the best player on the floor every minute of every day. There is a reason why everybody in America thought she was the best player because of the many things that she can do and not the one thing that she can do."

Being at the game enabled Auriemma to act like her coach for a few moments after the game.

"I always tend to look at things funny, 'Meg you were amazing in that fourth quarter, 18 points the game-winning bucket, just took over the game. You know Meg if you had done that in the first quarter, second quarter and third quarter you wouldn't have been down 11 and you wouldn't need to be a hero," Auriemma said. "She looks at me, 'yeah, I know.' What she did in that fourth quarter, she is capable of doing that the entire game but she is a high school kid and she doesn't know enough about that, we are dealing with that with Crystal (Dangerfield). When these kids are in high school and they know that, 'OK, game is on the line, time for me to take over ...'

Auriemma was thrilled that Walker and fellow UConn signee Mikayla Coombs ended their (non all-star game) high school careers by winning state titles and doing it on the same day was extra special.

"I am happy for them that they were able to win championships," Auriemma said. "Mikayla does it completely different, she has a lot of Kia Nurse in her, she just accomplishes a lot. She is going
to give us a different kind of dimension that we don't have right now."

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