Kemba Walker would be a senior if he had stayed at UConn. The Huskies, now 15-8 after losing five of six, could certainly use the leadership, not to mention the 20-plus-points per game. But after Jim Calhoun won his third national title last April, it didn't make sense for Walker to hang around for another year. He had accomplished everything he set out to in college and the logical next step was the NBA.
In June, he was the ninth-overall selection of the Charlotte Bobcats, a 3-22 team currently in last place in the Southeast division of the Eastern Conference. Walker has 13 starts and is averaging 12.4 points, 3.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.0 steals a game. Not Maya Moore-type rookie production, but impressive nonetheless.
Bobcats head coach Paul Silas agrees:
"He's getting there," Silas said according to TheDay.com's Gavin Keefe. "He's learning how to run a ball club now. Before he was just going off on his own and looking for himself. Now he's looking for everybody else first and when we need a hoop, he's going at it.
"Defensively, he's got to get up in the guy that he's guarding and try to get over screens, but that all takes time. I like the fact that he's gaining experience. … I think he has all-star potential in the future. ...
"He works hard," Silas added. "Every day he's one of the first ones in (the gym) and one of the last ones to leave. This summer he's really going to have to work even harder. We're going to work with his shot a little bit. When he comes back, he has a chance to be good."
While Walker never played on a 3-22 outfit in college, it wasn't all unicorns and rainbows in Storrs. The 2009-10 season was a huge disappointment, and 2010-11 wasn't much better, not until the last six weeks or so of the season anyway.
"We were terrible (in '09-'10)," Walker said before pointing out that the following season started slow, too. "We won 11 straight games at the end of the season. We lost four of our last five regular season games. We were 9-9 in the Big East. We didn't do well either. Everybody just remembers that last stretch. I have a great team (in Charlotte). We're keeping positive and keeping our heads up. You can't ask for more."
So there's still reason for optimism in Storrs, even if Walker was as disgusted as the rest of us at UConn's performance against Louisville Monday.
"Let's not talk about that," he said. "That was bad."
When asked what the Huskies need to do to get better Walker spoke frankly.
"Honestly, I don't know. They're good. … I know they'll get it right. They'll be fine."
We know what they could use: Kemba.