In a televised event that was somehow less dramatic than the Minnesota Lynx selecting Maya Moore with the first pick of the 2011 WNBA Draft, Kemba Walker officially announced that he's headed to the NBA. At this point, the only surprise would have been if Walker proclaimed that he was returning to UConn for his senior season.
"It's a lot of speculation about me going to the NBA and I just want to confirm everything … I will be going to the NBA," Walker said at a Tuesday press conference.
"I want to thank Coach Calhoun for turning me into a man from day one. Most importantly, thank my parents … and my teammates -- my brothers, really. … I think this is the right time for me to go to the NBA and I think coach has done a great job of preparing me to go to the next level."
Calhoun, who has been Walker's biggest fan all season, added his thoughts: "Like I told Kemba this morning, we just don't have a scholarship for him, so he has to move on. … It's a happy day for all of us -- but it's also a sad day to lose [Kemba]. But in life you have to keep going and that's been my motto. "
"… But he's ready to move on as a man and as a basketball player," Calhoun continued. "… And he's just completed the best season in school history. … I'm so happy for him that he's achieved this, but I'm also sad that I won't see him in my office every single day. … He's as fine a kid as I've ever coached … and a lot of our success begins with him … and I feel very blessed by the fact that I was able to coach him."
So now, the 6-1, 172-pound point guard will take his game to the National Basketball Association, the logical next step for a player who has absolutely nothing left to accomplish on the collegiate level.
And that's not hyperbole; Walker has won every award worth winning during his three years in Storrs, and he finished his career on the highest of notes: an 11-game winning streak that culminated in an NCAA Championship.
The 2010-2011 accolades:
* First-team All-American, USBWA
* First-team, All Big East
* Finalist: College Basketball Player of the Year
* Bob Cousy Award for the nation's top point guard
* Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player
* Big East Tournament Champion
* NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player
* Final Four Most Outstanding Player
* NCAA Tournament Champion
* Huskies of Honor (jersey retired)
While Walker's Huskies basketball career is over, he's not yet done with UConn. He will receive his diploma in three weeks before beginning the job search like thousands of other recent college grads. The difference: his interviews will consist of working out for NBA teams and by late June Walker will know where he'll be working for the next five or six years. Oh, and he will probably make somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 times that of the average 21-year-old starting their first job. Then again, there aren't any applicants with his resume, either.
Meanwhile, in two days, the UConn basketball program has lost two of the best players to ever step foot on campus. Maya has been tabbed with getting the Lynx back to the playoffs, and Kemba is headed to the Association. Both the women's and men's programs will continue to be successful, but Moore and Walker leave behind legacies that won't soon be forgotten, and perhaps never matched.