Walker filling star role at right time for UConn

After heading to UConn as the nation’s top-rated high school player in the class of 2017, Megan Walker (Monacan) contributed to the Huskies in relative anonymity over her first two seasons. Playing behind high-scoring upperclassmen such as Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson, Walker eased her way into the rotation as a freshman and became a starter — and third-team all-conference performer — as a sophomore.

Entering this season, with Collier and Samuelson gone to the WNBA, the veil of anonymity came off. Eyes were set to be on the junior forward.

“I had to be ready,” Walker said. “It was my time. I didn’t have any option but to be ready.”

With the conference season in full swing and UConn in its normal position among the best teams in women’s college basketball, Walker has been up to the challenge. Entering Saturday’s contest against Houston, Walker’s 20.8 points per game and 46 percent 3-point percentage were good for ninth and 13th in the nation, respectively. She leads the American Athletic Conference in scoring, 3-point percentage and defensive rebounds, while ranking in the top 10 in rebounds, field goal percentage, assists, free throw percentage, 3-point field goals, assist-to-turnover ratio and minutes played.

“There’s a level of play that [Walker] has reached that’s been really impressive to see considering last year those two seniors [Collier and Samuelson] obviously received most of the attention and got a lot of touches,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Now you’ve got Megan filling that role. I think it’s exactly the right time for her to be doing exactly what she’s doing.”

Walker’s rise to the starring role in Auriemma’s potent offense started by learning from those in front of her, and adjusting to the bright basketball lights of Storrs, Conn. The Monacan graduate took tips from Collier and Samuelson on how to be a leader at the highest level, including how to stay calm and knowing where everyone on the court should be. With those lessons, Walker hit the gym over the summer to prepare herself to again be a centerpiece. In addition to sharpening the skills that have led to a dominant start to her junior season, she also changed her body. Walker shed 15 pounds in the offseason and says she’s in the best playing shape yet.

After two years of development, Walker relishes the role she has claimed on the national stage. Being a primary scorer brings greater meaning to her efforts and brings back memories of her time at Monacan.

“It’s like high school all over again. Your teammates are going to depend on you every night,” Walker said. “In the past, I could play terrible or not play at all and the team could still win. It means a lot that they have to depend on me.”

Hot shots

After seeing rotational minutes through out-of-conference season, Robbie Beran (Collegiate) has moved into the starting lineup for Northwestern over the last three games. The results have been positive for the freshman. Beran is averaging 9 points and 6.7 rebounds over his last three games, including a 10-point, 10-rebound performance in a win over Nebraska.

Aja Boyd (ARGS) recorded back-to-back double-doubles in UNC Greensboro wins over East Tennessee State and Chattanooga this past week. The 12-point, 13-rebound effort against ETSU was her first double-double since the first game of the season. She collected three double-doubles last season.

Alex Parson (Monacan) broke a long scoring drought with back-to-back games with 11 and 15 points, respectively. The junior guard went through a five-game stretch shooting 20 percent from the field before shooting 58.8 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from 3-point range last week.

Eric Rustin (Huguenot) has moved into the starting lineup for UT Martin. The lanky 7-footer has provided a disruptive force with 24 blocks this season, including four in each of his last two contests.

Nick Sherod (St. Christopher’s) eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau for his career in Richmond’s loss to Saint Louis.

Jare’l Spellman (Hermitage), Sacred Heart’s record-setting shot blocker, had five blocks in addition to a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double in a win this week. It was Spellman’s ninth game of the year with multiple blocks, and his sixth with three or more.

Men’s statistics

Daryl Anderson (Millwood), Norfolk State: Monday — 4 minutes, 6 points in win over Coppin State; Saturday — 1 minute in win over Howard

Armando Bacot (Trinity Episcopal), North Carolina: Wednesday — 31 minutes, 15 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block in loss to Pittsburgh; Saturday — 37 minutes, 21 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 assist, 1 steal in loss to Clemson

Ameer Bennett (St. Christopher’s), Delaware State: Saturday — 35 minutes, 11 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal in win over North Carolina Central

Robbie Beran (Collegiate), Northwestern: Wednesday — 30 minutes, 8 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal in loss to Indiana; Saturday — 27 minutes, 10 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block in win over Nebraska

Rasir Bolton, Iowa State: Wednesday — 29 minutes, 12 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal in loss to Kansas; Saturday — 32 minutes, 23 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal in win over Oklahoma

De’Monte Buckingham (Henrico), Cal State Bakersfield: Wednesday — 34 minutes, 23 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal in loss to California Baptist

Charles Falden (L.C. Bird), Winthrop: Wednesday — 25 minutes, 14 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal in win over High Point; Saturday — 17 minutes, 3 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist in win over Gardner-Webb

Chris Ford (L.C. Bird), Norfolk State: Monday — 17 minutes, 4 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block in win over Coppin State; Saturday — 25 minutes, 6 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block in win over Howard

A.J. Gaston (Highland Springs), Grambling State: Monday — 18 minutes, 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist in win over Alabama State; Saturday — 23 minutes, 11 points, 3 rebounds in win over Southern

Zach Jacobs (Trinity Episcopal), James Madison: Thursday — 18 minutes, 6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks in loss to Delaware; Saturday — 20 minutes, 4 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block in loss to Drexel

Jalen Jefferson (Hopewell), Mount St. Mary’s: Thursday — 4 minutes, 1 rebound in loss to Merrimack; Saturday — 3 minutes, 3 rebounds in win over Bryant

Malik Jefferson (Hopewell), Mount St. Mary’s: Thursday — 35 minutes, 19 points, 8 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal in loss to Merrimack; Saturday — 33 minutes, 15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists in win over Bryant

Tyrese Jenkins (Varina), Norfolk State: Monday — 11 minutes, 3 assists, 1 rebound in win over Coppin State; Saturday — 3 minutes in win over Howard

Malik Johnson (L.C. Bird), Canisius: Friday — 40 minutes, 9 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals in loss to Monmouth; Sunday — 38 minutes, 15 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists in win over Saint Peter’s

Curtis Jones (Highland Springs), Penn State: Tuesday — 22 minutes, 3 points, 3 rebounds in loss to Rutgers; Saturday — 15 minutes, 2 assists, 2 rebounds in loss to Wisconsin

J.J. Matthews (Millwood), Arkansas State: Monday — 31 minutes, 18 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 assist, 1 steal in win over Georgia State; Thursday — 33 minutes, 11 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block in loss to South Alabama; Saturday — 23 minutes, 4 points, 2 rebounds in win over Troy

Devin Morgan (Matoaca), Youngstown State: Thursday — 12 minutes, 3 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal in win over Oakland; Saturday — 21 minutes, 9 points, 1 rebound in win over Detroit Mercy

Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz (Deep Run), Liberty: Thursday — 33 minutes, 9 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block in win over North Alabama; Saturday — 34 minutes, 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal in win over Jacksonville

Greg Parham (Monacan), VMI: Wednesday — 27 minutes, 10 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds in loss to Western Carolina; Saturday — 28 minutes, 12 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal in loss to East Tennessee State

Zach Pfaffenberger (Trinity Episcopal), Sacred Heart: Thursday — 6 minutes, 3 rebounds, 2 assists in win over Fairleigh Dickinson

Eric Rustin (Huguenot), UT Martin: Thursday — 31 minutes, 4 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks, 1 steal in win over Tennessee State; Saturday — 30 minutes, 2 points, 4 blocks, 2 rebounds, 1 steal in loss to Belmont

Nick Sherod (St. Christopher’s), Richmond: Saturday — 30 minutes, 17 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal in loss to Saint Louis

Mike’L Simms (Highland Springs), VCU: Saturday — 21 minutes, 3 points, 5 rebounds in loss to Rhode Island

Jare’l Spellman (Hermitage), Sacred Heart: Thursday — 33 minutes, 14 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks, 1 steal in win over Fairleigh Dickinson

Ben Stanley (Millwood), Hampton: Wednesday — 38 minutes, 24 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks in loss to South Carolina Upstate; Saturday — 32 minutes, 16 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 assists in win over Longwood

Deandre Thomas (Millwood), Samford: Wednesday — 31 minutes, 3 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist in loss to Wofford; Saturday — 33 minutes, 8 points, 1 rebound in loss to Chattanooga

Jason Wade (Trinity Episcopal), Old Dominion: Saturday — 17 minutes, 10 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal in loss to Charlotte

Andrien White (Thomas Dale), Wake Forest: Wednesday — 27 minutes, 9 points, 4 rebounds in loss to Florida State; Saturday — 20 minutes, 2 points, 1 assist, 1 steal in loss to Duke

Maliek White (George Wythe), Providence: Tuesday — 35 minutes, 19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal in win over Marquette; Friday — 29 minutes, 11 points, 2 assists in loss to Butler

Pinky Wiley (L.C. Bird), Delaware State: Saturday — 35 minutes, 7 points, 7 assists, 5 steals, 3 rebounds in win over North Carolina Central

C.J. Williams (Millwood), Howard: Monday — 36 minutes, 15 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal in loss to Bethune-Cookman; Saturday — 38 minutes, 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal in loss to Norfolk State

Tyrek Williams (L.C. Bird), Troy: Monday — 3 minutes, 2 points, 1 rebound in win over Texas State; Thursday — DNP in win over Little Rock; Saturday — DNP in loss to Arkansas State

Women’s statistics

Sydnei Archie (St. Catherine’s), VCU: Wednesday — 28 minutes, 12 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block in win over Saint Joseph’s; Sunday — vs Saint Louis, 4 p.m.

Taya Bolden (Highland Springs), Campbell: Monday — 16 minutes, 15 points, 9 rebounds, 1 block in win over Longwood; Thursday — 15 minutes, 4 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal in win over Gardner-Webb; Saturday — 22 minutes, 4 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists in win over Hampton

Aja Boyd (ARGS), UNC Greensboro: Thursday — 34 minutes, 12 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block in win over East Tennessee State; Saturday — 34 minutes, 12 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks in win over Chattanooga

Jada Boyd (ARGS), N.C. State: Thursday — 4 minutes, 1 rebound in loss to North Carolina; Sunday — vs Notre Dame, 4 p.m.

Angel Burgos (Trinity Episcopal), Richmond: Tuesday — DNP in loss to Rhode Island; Sunday — 2 minutes in loss to Dayton

Dejah Carter (Cosby), Old Dominion: Saturday — 1 minute in win over Charlotte

Elaina Chapman (Trinity Episcopal), Richmond: Tuesday — 22 minutes, 3 points, 4 blocks, 4 rebounds in loss to Rhode Island; Sunday — 21 minutes, 6 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal in loss to Dayton

Taja Cole (L.C. Bird), Virginia Tech: Thursday — vs 38 minutes, 21 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds, 1 steal in win over Pittsburgh; Sunday — vs Duke, 3 p.m.

Nia Covington (Cosby), College of Charleston: Friday — 3 minutes, 2 points in loss to Elon; Sunday — 12 minutes, 2 points, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 rebound in loss to William & Mary

CeCe Crudup (Highland Springs), UNC Greensboro: Thursday — 28 minutes, 5 points, 1 rebound in win over East Tennessee State; Saturday — 31 minutes, 6 points, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 rebound in win over Chattanooga

Jennifer Davis (TPLS), Towson: Wednesday — 10 minutes, 3 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound in win over Chestnut Hill; Sunday — DNP in win over James Madison

Camarie Gatling (Highland Springs), George Mason: Wednesday — 25 minutes, 8 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist in loss to Dayton; Sunday — 20 minutes, 4 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound in loss to St. Bonaventure

Daijah Jefferson (Hopewell), Georgia Tech: Thursday — DNP in win over Florida State; Sunday — 3 minutes, 1 rebound in win over Clemson

Tina Lindenfeld (Midlothian), Radford: Monday — 23 minutes, 9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal in loss to High Point; Thursday — 11 minutes, 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block in loss to Hampton; Saturday — 27 minutes, 10 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal in loss to UNC Asheville

Mallory Odell (Deep Run), Longwood: Monday — 17 minutes, 2 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal in loss to Campbell; Thursday — 9 minutes, 7 points, 6 rebounds in win over Charleston Southern; Saturday- 14 minutes, 2 points, 4 rebounds in win over South Carolina Upstate

Alex Parson (Monacan), Richmond: Tuesday — 37 minutes, 11 points, 4 steals, 3 assists, 1 rebound in loss to Rhode Island; Sunday — 33 minutes, 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 assist in loss to Dayton

Taya Robinson (Huguenot), VCU: Wednesday — 32 minutes, 7 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal in win over Saint Joseph’s; Sunday — vs Saint Louis, 4 p.m.

Ariel Stephenson (Prince George), George Washington: Wednesday — 18 minutes, 3 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound in win over Duquesne; Sunday — 27 minutes, 9 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal in loss to Fordham

Aryna Taylor (Patrick Henry), Mount St. Mary’s: Saturday — 17 minutes, 6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal in win over Bryant

Megan Walker (Monacan), UConn: Thursday — 38 minutes, 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals in loss to Baylor; Saturday — 26 minutes, 22 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal in win over Houston

Tyra Whitehead (Cosby), San Jose State: Wednesday — 37 minutes, 18 points, 14 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 1 assist in win over Nevada; Saturday — 23 minutes, 2 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 assist in win over Colorado State

Anna Wilson (Collegiate), Stanford: Friday — 21 minutes, 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal in win over California; Sunday — vs California, late

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