Can Anyone Stop Connecticut's Kemba Walker?

Justin McTeerCorrespondent INovember 26, 2010

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 09: Kemba Walker #15 of the Connecticut Huskies dribbles the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats during the SEC Big East Invitational at Madison Square Garden on December 9, 2009 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Every season, college basketball delivers a handful of pleasant surprises—players or teams that seem to come out of nowhere and blow away everyone's expectations.

A few years ago, Stephen Curry went from being a overlooked Southern Conference star to a candidate for the National Player of the Year on the heels of Davidson's trip to the Elite Eight in 2008.

Connecticut's Kemba Walker isn't taking nearly as long this season to become one of the nation's favorite players to watch.

In his first game of the season, Walker scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds.  That's quite the debut, but his play since that game made his first performance of the season look like an off night.

Walker has averaged 33 points per game in the last four outings—maybe he had the flu in that 18-point performance against Stony Brook. 

After a 42-point outing against Vermont, Walker averaged 30 points per game as he dominated the Maui Invitational, leading his team past highly-ranked Michigan State and Kentucky on their way to winning the tournament's title.

Against No. 2 Michigan State, he scored 30 points and completely outshined the Spartans' touted point guard, Kalin Lucas.

Eighth-ranked Kentucky's Brandon Knight, the freshman rising point guard star, was completely outclassed by Walker in the Maui Invitational title game.

Knight and Lucas, two stars in their own right, combined for 16 points against Walker in Maui while the Connecticut star scored a total of 59 points against their best defensive efforts.

Walker's numbers, however, weren't as impressive as the way in which he put them on the scoreboard.

He scored in every way possible.  He hit clutch shots from long range, made difficult mid-range jumpers with hands in his face, scored in traffic through multiple defenders and put points on the board in transition.  And he did all that against two teams with star point guards who could easily finish at the top of their respective conferences.

As a result of Walker's stellar play, the Huskies will likely vault from unranked status to a top-15 team when the new polls come out.

The timing of Walker's awe-inspiring play couldn't be better for Jim Calhoun's program either. 

Prior to the season, all the talk about Connecticut centered on recruiting violations and the consequences that will come from the NCAA. 

Thanks to Walker, the buzz about Connecticut basketball is much more positive these days.