In the 2010-11 college basketball season two players captivated the minds of fans—Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker. The two were in constant battle for attention and the national player of the year award. Ultimately Fredette took home the majority of those awards.
But Walker received the greatest hardware any collegiate player could hope for—the national championship trophy, and the Most Outstanding Player award. For Walker the spectacular play began in Maui around Thanksgiving 2010 and continued all the way through the season perhaps culminating in one of the finest Big East Tournament performances ever authored by one individual.
After leading the young Huskies to a five-wins-in-five-days sweep of the Big East’s big boys, Walker continued right where he left off against the Bucknell Bison—a team yours truly and many others picked to knock off the Huskies. He finished the opening night of the tournament with his best overall performance—pouring in 18 points while complementing his teammates by dishing out 12 assists and also grabbing eight rebounds.
In the round two victory over Big East rival Cincinnati, Walker exploded for 33 points and somehow found time to nab six rebounds and drop five dimes.
In the Sweet 16 he tore my heart out (I’m a San Diego State grad) as he picked apart a great Aztecs defense for 36 points. In the Elite Eight, he regressed back to human form but still put in 20 points while grabbing four rebounds and handing out seven assists.
His overall numbers were least impressive in the Final Four, yet Walker was still the star as he rallied his squad against Kentucky with 18 points, six rebounds and seven assists. He finished his college career with a poor shooting performance against Butler, but still dropped in 16 points and grabbed a postseason high nine rebounds.
But just like any of the players on this list, Walker’s tournament star was not defined numbers. It was the flare, the smile, the moves and the charisma that will have us remembering Walker’s tournament performance for many years to come.