Kemba Hudley Walker (born May 8, 1990) is an American professional basketball player for the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Walker was drafted ninth overall by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2011 NBA draft. Walker grew up in The Bronx, New York, and graduated from Rice High School in 2008. Walker played college basketball for the Connecticut men's basketball team. In the 2010–11 season, Walker was unanimously selected for the All-Big East first team, Walker was the second-leading college basketball scorer in the United States and led the Huskies to the 2011 Big East championship and 2011 NCAA championship and was named as the tournament's most outstanding player for both championships.
High school career
Walker attended Rice High School in Harlem, New York. In his junior year, Walker played against Simeon Career Academy and senior guard Derrick Rose in Madison Square Garden in a 53–51 win. During Walker's senior year he averaged 18.2 points per game and 5.3 assists per game, earning him a spot on the prestigious McDonald's All-American Team. Walker played for the New York Gauchos AAU basketball program with fellow Big East players Jordan Theodore, Darryl "Truck" Bryant, Devin Hill, and Danny Jennings. The team went on to finish #1 in the nation.
Considered a five-star recruit by Rivals.com, Walker was listed as the No. 5 point guard and the No. 14 player in the nation in 2008.
During his freshman year at UConn, Walker played in every game and was named to the Big East All-Rookie Team. He helped the Huskies achieve a number one seed in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Despite starting in only two games he averaged 25.5 minutes per game, far more than any regular non-starter. He also helped the Huskies go to the 2009 Final Four with a 23-point effort in the Elite Eight vs Missouri.
Walker played and started all 34 games in 2009–10 season. He contributed 14.6 points per game and led the Huskies in scoring for the eighth time in the last nine games of the season with 18 points at Virginia Tech. Walker was named First Team USBWA All-District. Connecticut earned a 4 seed in 2010 National Invitation Tournament, but fell short to Virginia Tech as the Huskies finished a disappointing season going 18–16 (7–11) in conference play.
Walker rose to national prominence in his junior year, twelve games into his junior campaign, Walker was the nation's leading scorer, averaging 26.7 points per game. In addition, he averaged five rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. Walker appeared on one of the six regional covers Sports Illustrated.
In the 2011 Big East Tournament (during his junior year), Walker hit the game winning shot as time expired to beat #3 overall Pittsburgh and advance UConn to the semifinals. He led UConn to victory over University of Louisville in the Big East Championship game and was named MVP for the tournament. Walker scored 130 points in five games, a Big East Tournament record and the most points scored in any conference tournament in the past 15 seasons. UConn became the first school to win five games in five days to earn a conference championship.
On March 14, 2011, The United States Basketball Writers Association named Walker a first team All-American. He was picked to the Second Team All-America by Fox Sports. He was also a finalist for College Basketball Player of the Year honors due to his performance in the 2010–11 season. Although he finished second (to Jimmer Fredette), two journalists thought that Walker was the best player in college basketball that year. Walker was named the winner of the Bob Cousy Award for the top point guard in the nation. On April 4, 2011 Walker led the University of Connecticut with 16 points in winning the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, and was named the NCAA Basketball Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Walker was added to the Huskies of Honor upon the team's return from Houston at a pep rally to celebrate the National Title. He became the first men's basketball player to receive the honor since inaugural class was announced in December 2006.
College awards and honors
- NCAA champion (2011)
- Bob Cousy Award (2011)
- Lute Olson Award (2011)
- NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player (2011)
- Consensus first team All-American (2011)
- Big East Tournament MVP (2011)
- NCAA Final Four All-Tournament Team (2011)
- Maui Invitational Tournament MVP (2011)
- All-Big East First Team (2011)
- All-Big East Third Team (2010)
- All-Big East All-Rookie Team (2009)
- Espn.com uconn huskies' team stats
- Roger Rubin (March 28, 2009). "Freshman Kemba Walker's 23 points helps UConn outlast Missouri". Daily News.
- "Kemba Walker Bio". UConnHuskies.com. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
- "Connecticut Huskies vs. Louisville Cardinals - Recap". ESPN. 2011-03-12. Retrieved 2011-03-22.
- "Walker named All-American". The Day. 2011-03-14. Retrieved 2011-03-22.
- Goodman, Jeff (Mar 7, 2011). "Goodman's 2010-11 All-America teams". Fox Sports. Fox Sports Interactive Media. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
- Hard to argue Walker's POY candidacy, Jeff Goodman, FOXSports.com
- Bronx product Kemba Walker has dazzled fans with clutch play at UConn, Kevin Armstrong, NY Daily News
- Report: Kemba Walker wins Bob Cousy Award, accessed March 31, 2011
- UConn defeats Butler 53-41 for 3rd national title, Fox Sports, Associated Press
- UConn Men Celebrate With Thousands of Fans; Kemba Walker's Jersey Retired. Journal Register News Service, April 5, 2011
Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets (2011–present)
Walker announced that he would leave UConn to enter the 2011 NBA draft on April 12. Walker was selected 9th overall in the 2011 NBA draft by the Charlotte Bobcats. Walker signed a multi-year shoe deal with Under Armour, the first rookie from the 2011 Draft Class to do so.
On December 11, 2011, he signed the rookie scale contract with the Bobcats, and with the injury of point guard D. J. Augustin, he became their starting point guard. On January 28, 2012, in a home game against the Washington Wizards he achieved his first triple-double with 20 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds, joining Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson as the only Bobcats in team history to record one. Walker participated in the 2012 Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend.
On November 14, 2012, Walker hit his first game winner of his NBA career against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He finished the game with 22 points on 9-of-19 shooting, as well as 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. On January 21, 2013, he scored a then career-high 35 points against the Houston Rockets. During the 2012–13 season, Walker was selected with teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to the 2013 Rising Stars Challenge. Walker scored 8 points.
Kemba finished the 2012–13 season with averages of 17.7 points, 5.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 2 steals a game. He took significant strides over his rookie year.
On December 9, 2013, Walker scored 31 points, with 27 points coming in the second half, and scored the final 15 points to help the Bobcats defeat the Golden State Warriors, 115–111. On December 18, 2013, he hit a buzzer-beating jump shot over Jonas Valančiūnas in overtime to beat the Toronto Raptors. He finished the night with 26 points and 5 rebounds on 10/18 shooting from the field. On February 19, 2014, Walker recorded 24 points, 5 rebounds and a career-high 16 assists in a 116–98 win over the Detroit Pistons. Five days later, he was awarded the Eastern Conference Player of the Week. He averaged 22.5 points, 8.8 assists, and 5.5 rebounds during the week. In a home victory against the Orlando Magic on April 4, 2014, Walker recorded his second career triple-double with 13 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds.
Walker had a stellar game four in the Eastern Conference Playoffs first round against the Miami Heat with teammate Al Jefferson unable to play due to a Plantar fasciitis injury. He finished the game with a playoff franchise high 29 points along with 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. The effort came in a loss as the Heat completed a four-game sweep of the Bobcats.
In the newly renamed Charlotte Hornets' opening game against the Milwaukee Bucks on October 29, Walker led an impressive comeback in an overtime 108–106 victory. The Hornets were 24 points down by the fourth quarter before staging a comeback; Walker scored a three-point shot with 1.6 seconds remaining to force overtime before hitting the game winning shot as well. He finished the game with 26 points, 5 assists and 6 rebounds. The following day, he signed a four-year, $48 million contract extension with the Hornets. On December 5, 2014, Walker hit his second game-winner of the season in a 103–102 win over the New York Knicks. On December 27, in a 94–102 loss to the Orlando Magic, he scored a then career-high 42 points, and set a franchise record for most points scored in a half in Charlotte Hornets franchise history with 35 in the second half. On January 3 against the Orlando Magic, Walker scored 30 points to pass Kendall Gill for 10th place on the Charlotte Hornets all-time scoring list with 4,160 points. In three games played between January 3 and January 7, Walker scored 30 points in a win over the Orlando Magic, 33 points in a win over the Boston Celtics, and 31 points in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans to become one of four players (Larry Johnson, Glen Rice and Kelly Tripucka) in Charlotte Hornets' franchise history to ever put together a consecutive span of three or more 30-point plus games. Walker also hit his fifth game winner of his career and his third game winner of the season on January 7 in the 98–94 win over the Pelicans. On January 12, he was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, January 5 through Sunday, January 11. Over the week, he led the Hornets to a 4–0 record and averaged 30.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 36.2 minutes, while shooting .500 from the field (44–88), .364 from beyond the three-point line (8–22) and .893 from the free-throw line (25–28).
On January 28, 2015, Walker was ruled out for six weeks after he underwent successful surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. He returned to action on March 11 after missing 18 games to score six points in 16 minutes off the bench as the Hornets lost to the Sacramento Kings, 106–113.
On November 23, 2015, Walker scored a then season-high 39 points in a 127–122 overtime win over the Sacramento Kings. On January 18, 2016, Walker set a career-high and a franchise-record with 52 points in a 124–119 double overtime win over the Utah Jazz. He made 16-of-34 from the field, including 6-of-11 three-pointers, and was 14-of-15 from the free throw line, breaking the team mark of 48 points set by Glen Rice in March 1997. On March 9, in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans, Walker became just the third Hornets player to make 500 career three-pointers, joining Dell Curry (929) and Glen Rice (508). Five days later, he earned his fourth career Player of the Week award, and second of the 2015–16 season (first coming on January 25), becoming just the sixth Charlotte player to win the award multiple times in the same season. The Hornets finished the regular season as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 48–34 record. In the first round of the playoffs, the Hornets faced the third-seeded Miami Heat, and in a Game 4 win on April 25, Walker scored a playoff career-high 34 points, helping the Hornets tie the series at 2–2. He topped that mark in Game 6 of the series, scoring 37 points in a 97–90 loss, as the Heat tied the series at 3–3. The Hornets went on to lose Game 7, bowing out of the playoffs with a 4–3 defeat.
On November 4, 2016, Walker scored a season-high 30 points in a 99–95 win over the Brooklyn Nets, helping Charlotte improve to 4–1 for the first time since 2000. He topped that mark on November 11, recording 40 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in a 113–111 loss to the Toronto Raptors. On December 29, with 22 points against the Miami Heat, Walker recorded his 7,000th point with the Charlotte franchise when he hit a three-pointer with 4:16 left in the first quarter. He became the fourth player in franchise history to reach that mark, and became the second-quickest by doing so in his 396th game—Larry Johnson passed the mark in his 355th career game with the Hornets. Walker's 37-point effort against the Cleveland Cavaliers on December 31 marked his 31st game of 30 points or more. The only Hornets player with more such games in team history is Glen Rice with 54. On January 2, 2017, he recorded 34 points and a season-high 11 rebounds in a 118–111 loss to the Chicago Bulls. He notched consecutive 30-point games for the first time since March 2016. On January 26, he was named an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. Two days later, in a loss to the Sacramento Kings, Walker moved into third place in franchise history in field goals made (2,586), passing Gerald Wallace. On January 31, he scored 22 points against the Portland Trail Blazers and moved into third place on the team's career scoring list.
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
Walker is the son of Paul and Andrea Walker. His mother is a Crucian, raised in Antigua of Antiguan parentage, and his father is Antiguan. He has two brothers Akil and Keya and one sister Sharifa.
Walker grew up in the Sack-Wern Houses in Soundview, Bronx.
Walker is also a dancer. He performed three times at the Apollo Theater for the TV show Showtime at the Apollo.
On June 21, 2011, Walker released a mixtape in collaboration with DJ Skee and Skee Sports. The mixtape features songs inspired by and inspiring to Walker.