Archive for Saturday, July 31, 2004

K.C. high school player Walker comfortable in spotlight

July 31, 2004

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Considering Marcus Walker is the big-name local basketball player at the Price Chopper/Kansas City Prep Invitational Tournament, it would be understandable if he felt added pressure to play well.

Then consider that Walker, a 6-foot senior point guard from Kansas City (Mo.) O'Hara High, is performing in front of a handful of Division One coaches. Is the pressure too much for Walker to handle?

Nah, he doesn't think so. He's done this before.

"Most players try too hard," said Walker, who plays for the Kansas City Keys AAU team. "If I go out here and see all the college coaches and I try too hard, it's going to make it difficult for me to do something good. I'd go out there and try to make something happen rather than just going out and playing like I'm in the backyard.

"Instead, usually when I come to stuff like this, I just try to play like I'm by myself with my team."

It was Walker's team-oriented nature that helped him earn the 2004 DiRenna Award, which is given to the top player in the Kansas City Metro Area by the Greater Kansas City Basketball Coaches Assn. It also was the reason Missouri, Arkansas and Iowa already have offered him scholarships. Illinois and Duquesne are among the other schools interested in Walker.

"Everyone's equal right now," he said of a possible front-runner. "I'm just trying to have fun throughout the whole process. I'm going to take all my visits, sit down and think about it to make sure I make the right choice."

Walker made a name for himself as a scorer -- he averaged 19 points a game as a freshman, 22 as a sophomore and 26.9 during his junior campaign at O'Hara -- but when he plays AAU ball, he primarily is a passer and defender.

Friday, Walker poured in 30 points in the Keys' 87-74 quarterfinal loss to the Dakota Schoolers, but displayed a more well-rounded game with 13 points, five rebounds and a six assists in his squad's 86-81 victory over the SYF Players in the consolation semifinals.

The Keys will face the St. Louis Eagles at 11 this morning for fifth place. All of today's games will begin at 11 a.m.

  • Texans advance: Kansas University recruits C.J. Miles and Kevin Rogers led Team Texas past the Tennessee Travelers, 60-55, in the semifinals Friday night. Miles had 15 points, and Rogers added six points. Team Texas will play the Illinois Warriors for the title.

  • Hansbrough up and down: Fans critical of Poplar Bluff (Mo.) High senior Tyler Hansbrough's play this week likely were not impressed by the 6-9, 230-pound power forward's play Friday.

Hansbrough, ranked as the fifth-best prep senior in the country by Rivals.com, scored 11 points and logged four fouls in his St. Louis Eagles' 62-50 loss to the Tennessee Travelers in the championship quarterfinals. He responded with 23 points in the Eagles' 69-54 victory over the Pulley Panthers in the consolation semifinals.

More famous faces: Kansas coach Bill Self and KU senior Keith Langford caught a bit of the action Friday night. Other notable names in attendance were Arizona coach Lute Olson, Texas coach Rick Barnes and former Nebraska coach and current Duquesne head man Danny Nee.

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