Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Kemba Walker is headed to the NBA.
At a press conference Tuesday at Gampel Pavillion, The Bronx native and Rice High School product confirmed what many had expected.
He will go pro after graduating in three years at UConn.
“I just think it’s the right time for me to go to the NBA,” said Walker.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” Andrea Walker, Kemba’s mother, told SNY.tv.
The 6-foot-1 All-American guard led the Huskies to a 32-9 record, including an 11-0 postseason run that ended with UConn’s third national championship. Walker is expected to be a first-round pick, and perhaps the second guard chosen behind Duke’s Kyrie Irving.
“He is a Top 10 pick,” one veteran NBA scout told SNY.tv. “He’s five to 10 on most people’s boards.
Walker averaged 23.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists during his junior season, and scored a school record 965 points, accounting for 45 percent of the Huskies’ offense.
Walker on Tuesday thanked coach Jim Calhoun “for turning me into a man.”
Walker has not yet hired an agent.
“There’s no chance that I’m coming back,” Walker said before joking: “Like coach said, he doesn’t have a scholarship for me.”
Walker will continue his busy week by throwing out the first pitch Wednesday at Yankee Stadium before the Bombers host the Orioles.
Walker is the 13th Connecticut player to leave school early. Center Hasheem Thabeet was the last in 2009.
Walker finishes his career in seventh place on the school’s scoring list with 1,783 points in 111 games.
His departure means Connecticut will return four starters and nine players from its national championship team next season, although Rolando Lamb, the father of freshman wing Jeremy Lamb, told SNY.tv his son may test the NBA waters.
The Huskies also will add another point guard in Ryan Boatright, a blue chip recruit from Illinois.
(The AP contributed)
**UConn’s Lamb may test NBA waters
**Jeff Calhoun believes father will return to UConn
**Despite winning 3rd title, Calhoun unlikely to retire
**Kemba’s halftime speech lifts Huskies to national title
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.