Geno Auriemma rarely gushes about players on his team, but after Sunday’s win over Notre Dame he couldn’t hide his smile while talking about Megan Walker.
“Megan’s playing like she’s a First Team All-American player,” he noted. “I don’t know if anyone is playing better than her in the country. I haven’t seen it.”
Walker is certainly off to an impressive start in her junior season. She’s averaging 22.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game and had a team high 26 points and 13 boards against the Irish. She’s already remarkably ahead of the 12.1 points and 6.7 rebounds she averaged last season and has elevated her game to the next level by playing more physically along with a noticeably stronger presence on the court.
Her stats thus far put her among the best in the nation. Per Her Hoop Stats, she ranks eight in the country for points per game and in the top 10 percent for points per play. Walker is averaging 1.01 points for every possession she uses — with a shot attempt, trip to the line or turnover. She’s also among the top five percent in the nation for three-point percentage, and ranks 20th for defensive rebounds per game, to name a few.
Her performance has not gone unnoticed on the national stage either. After the Huskies big win over Notre Dame she’s garnered quite a bit of recognition, including being named the AAC, ESPNW and USBWA Ann Myers Drysdale Player of the Week.
Megan Walker of @UConnWBB is our Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Week. Kayla Padilla of @PennWBB is the Tamika Catchings National Freshman Player of the Week. https://t.co/KlhdG1QaRG pic.twitter.com/RZMGCHDvfj— U.S. Basketball Writers Association (@USBWA) December 10, 2019
Her increased production is, of course, exactly what the Huskies need. They likely wouldn’t be undefeated on the season without it. Walker knew this was the case heading into the season.
“I have no choice but to be ready,” She said when Geno asked her if she was ready in the summer. “Just knowing all summer that it’s out time — everyone on this team that is stepping up now, and no one’s here to cover out butts for us.”
Auriemma also noted how Walker has stepped up to the plate now that Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson are gone.
“Megan’s done that. She sees those two guys are gone. Okay,” he said. “Okay, well now we’re going to give you all the touches you want. Let’s see if you can produce every single night. And you know what, she has.”
In addition to the strides she made in the off-season to take on a bigger role from the start, Walker also continues to improve every game. After having just two offensive rebounds in the first six games of the season, for example, Walker had three at Seton Hall and four against Notre Dame. Her rebounding is actually what Auriemma was most impressed by after the game Sunday.
“There’s a lot left in her tank and what she can do,” he noted. “She’s just beginning to scratch the surface.”
If Walker’s game continues to evolve and improve over the rest of the season, as it has through the Huskies’ first eight games, UConn will be a much better team in March than they are today. For Walker, if she continues to excel as UConn’s go-to player, her season will likely end with her name on everyone’s All-American team.