UK Women's Basketball

Report: Ex-Huskie heading to UK women

Samarie Walker, left, was a McDonald's All-American in high school. She averaged 6.2 points and 5.8 rebounds coming off the bench for Connecticut.
Samarie Walker, left, was a McDonald's All-American in high school. She averaged 6.2 points and 5.8 rebounds coming off the bench for Connecticut. ASSOCIATED PRESS

It looks like Kentucky might be adding a new name to its roster.

And it's a big one.

Several published reports around the country are saying Samarie Walker, a 6-foot-1 reserve who parted ways with Connecticut recently, plans to enroll at Kentucky as early as Monday.

If true, Walker would be the highest- ranked player to ever play for the Cats.

The Dayton-based Dabbelt Report was the first to report through sources the former McDonald's All-American and a consensus top-10 recruit would be heading to Kentucky.

A story in the Hartford Courant cited a University of Connecticut source that said he or she wouldn't be surprised if Walker ended up at Kentucky.

According to NCAA rules, UK coaches cannot comment on the transfer of a player until he or she is enrolled at the school.

"If and when we have news of a transfer, we will let you know," Susan Lax, UK's women's basketball spokeswoman, said Saturday.

In the Hartford Courant, the player's former AAU coach, Tom Jenkins, seemed to indicate that playing closer to her Dayton home might have been a factor.

"Kentucky was always in the mix with her," Jenkins said. "They recruited her very hard. They were in her top five schools."

But the player opted to go to UConn when Coach Geno Auriemma called because one of her high school heroes was a former standout there, Jenkins said.

The Courant story goes on to say Jenkins believes Walker will find "great contentment at Kentucky. Lexington is only about 1 hour, 45 minutes from Dayton."

It also adds that sources say Walker is set to enroll at UK on Monday and will be eligible to play for the Wildcats in the spring of 2012.

Walker was one of the second-ranked Huskies' top reserves this season, averaging 6.2 points and 5.8 rebounds in 19 minutes. When she left the team last week, she was hitting a team-best 58.7 percent from the field and had played in 17 games.

She issued this statement through UConn: "Right now I can't give the team the energy and commitment that it needs to be successful. I need to go and figure out what my future holds."

Duane Williams, Walker's coach at Chaminade-Julienne High, told the Dayton Daily News his former standout was homesick and missed her parents.

After Walker's departure, Auriemma told the Hartford paper Walker left the program because she lost her desire to play basketball.

"You can't make someone do something when the heart is not there," Auriemma said. "It's very frustrating for everyone. There is only so much that a coaching staff can do. This isn't an activity that you use as a hobby. When you accept a Division I scholarship at this level, there is a commitment required, physically, mentally and emotionally."

While at Chaminade-Julienne, Walker averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

She was ranked as high as No. 8 nationally by one recruiting service, which would make her the most highly touted player to play for UK.

The swing player was a McDonald's All-American and was an East teammate of current Cat Jennifer O'Neill.

Alumni game Sunday

Kentucky will have its first women's basketball alumni game at noon Sunday at Memorial Coliseum. UK has released the names of players in the game, which is free and open to the public. The game is before UK faces Vanderbilt at 4 p.m. Fans who come to the alumni game must leave the arena afterward but can return with their tickets for the UK-Vandy game.

Former players expected to play include Chante Bowman, Chelsea Chowning, Mitzi Combs, Linda Murphy-Edelman, Tanya Fogle, Pam Hatcher, Margaret LaFontaine, Jocelyn Lyons, Samantha Mahoney, Carol Mindel, Carly Ormerod Bell, Sara Potts, Becky Smith and Stephanie Stumbo-Mitchell.

Berry to be honored

Former Kentucky player Ceal Berry will be honored at Sunday's game with the annual "Susan B. Feamster Trailblazer Award."

Berry, a 1977 UK graduate, blazed coaching trails while at Colorado, where she coached for 22 seasons and led the Buffaloes to 12 NCAA Tournaments trips.

Berry, a senior athletics administrator at the school, also has won numerous coach of the year honors.