In a somewhat surprising turn of events, junior forward Megan Walker has elected to declare for the WNBA Draft this year, passing up on her final year of eligibility at UConn.
After coming to Storrs as the No. 1 recruit in the country for the class of 2017, Walker compiled 1,251 points and 615 rebounds and was major factor in helping the Huskies to two Final Four appearances and three American Athletic Conference Tournament championships. She left UConn as the only remaining recruit from that 2017 recruiting class and finished in the top 40 in scoring in program history.
Walker’s departure also means the Class of 2017 will be without a national championship.
UConn now has two-straight classes that have graduated without national championships. 2016 (Dangerfield, Bent, Irwin) and now 2017 (Walker and Co.)— Daniel Connolly (@DanielVConnolly) March 14, 2020
That hasn't happened since the incoming classes of 1989 and 1990.
“After much consideration and thought with my family, I have decided to forgo my senior season and enter the WNBA draft. Due to the unfortunate circumstances that caused the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament, it saddens me that I was not able to finish my junior season in the way that I would have liked. I am, however, ready to move on to the next phase of my life and career,” Walker said in a statement. “I would like to thank the University of Connecticut, my coaches, teammates, and the athletic staff for their support and for embracing me over the last three years. Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank the fans for all their support and making me feel loved over my UConn career. I will forever be a Husky and wish the best for UConn in the future.”
In that same release, head coach Geno Auriemma spoke on Walker’s early exit. Walker is the first player in program history to leave after three seasons with the Huskies.
“During a player’s college career, they’re working towards certain goals, and when you have an opportunity to reach a certain goal that you set for yourself, I think it’s important that you have an opportunity to take it,” Auriemma said. “Meg’s decided this is the right time for her to take advantage of this opportunity. Obviously, she had an incredible season this year and is incredibly talented. We support her 100 percent and we’re going to support her going forward. We wish her the best of luck as she begins her pro career.”
Walker’s decision to leave early is likely due in part to a top-heavy but overall weak WNBA draft class and the league’s new collective bargaining agreement, which has substantially increased salaries.
She joins Azura Stevens (2018) and Morgan Tuck (2016) as UConn players to leave for the WNBA with eligibility remaining.
Outside of Oregon stars Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally, Baylor’s Lauren Cox, UConn’s own Crystal Dangerfield and others, this draft class is generally regarded as weaker than usual. Walker should easily a high-to-mid first round pick and begin her career in the WNBA.