- Chris Hansen, ESPNHS HoopGurlz
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Samarie Walker, the nation's top ranked junior according to ESPN HoopGurlz, committed to the University of Connecticut this weekend while on an unofficial visit.
"That's my first time being on campus," Walker said of her visit, which included the famous Super Show where both the mens' and womens' teams put on a preseason exhibition for fans.
Since Walker was in the fourth grade she dreamed of playing at UConn just as one of her role models, Tamika Williams, a former Chaminade-Julienne High School star did. Williams was named national player of the year at Chaminade-Julienne in Dayton, Ohio, by three publications and was drafted as the sixth overall pick in the 2002 WNBA draft by the Minnesota Lynx.
Walker talked to Williams two weeks ago and informed her of the pending visit.
"She told me that (Connecticut) was a great place to be," Walker said, "but that I needed to make sure it was right for me."
There was a long list of colleges pursuing the 6-foot-1 guard. Walker had coaches from both coasts and everywhere in-between flying out to her practices and games in Ohio and according to Chaminade-Julienne head coach Mark Greenberg she considered many of them but "(Walker) definitely always had a preference for Connecticut."
Walker had a top five of Connecticut, Duke, Georgia, Maryland and Rutgers. She settled on Connecticut and Rutgers as her leaders before pulling the trigger on her commitment.
"I know both teams have great coaching staffs and great academics." Walker, who wants to major in business marketing, said of her two leaders.
The dream, which has been the focus of Walker on the hardwood, was not always a reality in her mind. In her freshman and sophomore years she didn't garner the buzz and hype of many other top players in the area and she felt her dream was slipping away.
"Being slighted really motivated her," Greenberg said.
Walker is well known for her tremendous energy on the court and rarely is she out-worked. Many of the pundits overlooking her probably had to do with the fact she made the transition from being a back-to-the-basket post to being a guard. The transition she said really didn't start until this past summer.
As a post she would still be a college prospect but her development at the guard position along with her established ability in the paint has created one of the nation's biggest scoring threats.
The striking thing is her efficiency. Most guards who can score 40 points an observer knows based on the number of shots and the domination of the ball to go check the box score. With Walker it's different. She dominates the game without dominating the ball.
"Defensive rebounds -- that's a touch for Samarie," Greenberg said. "She takes that into transition. If she gets 10 or 11 rebounds she'll turn that into seven or eight good shots."
On the move Walker is a fantastic finisher with great leaping ability and body control. She elevates to the rim and is more comfortable shooting off the dribble then catching and shooting -- a characteristic that serves her well in her many transition plays.
Connecticut had quite a run on top ranked players, getting three straight No. 1 ranked players between the 2005 and 2008 classes with Tina Charles, Maya Moore and Elena DelleDonne. The Huskies and head coach Geno Auriemma are back to their old tricks again in securing Walker's verbal commitment.
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Chris Hansen covers girls' high school basketball nationally for ESPN.com and leads the panel that ranks and evaluates players for the network. He is a graduate of the University of Washington with a Communications degree. He can be reached at email@example.com.