Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kemba Declares for Draft

Kemba Walker announced his intentions of skipping his senior season at UConn and entering the NBA draft at a press conference today at Gampel Pavilion. In about an hour-long press conference, attended by Jim Calhoun and UConn's coaching staff (Andre LaFleur, George Blaney, Kevin Ollie and Glen Miller) and teammate Alex Oriakhi, here's some of what Walker and others had to say:

KEMBA WALKER:

"I'll be giving up my senior season and going on to the NBA. I wanted to take this time to thank everybody – thank Coach Calhoun for turning me into a man, from Day One. Most importantly, thank my parents for being very supportive of everything I've done in life."

"I just think it's the right time for me. I think I've accomplished a lot in my college career,a nd I think Coach did a great job of preparing me for that level."

(when did he make the decision)

"A couple of days ago, when I got back from L.A. for the Wooden Award stuff. I sat down with Coach and my family, and we just made the decision that it was time."

(did the potential for an NBA lockout make the decision more difficult?)

"Not really. I finished up this season so well, I'll probably be in a great situation."

(on leaving his teammates and the school)

"It's a happy day, but also a sad day. They're my brothers. I grew with them, they grew with me. Those freshmen, I wish I could stay another year with those guys to see how much they improve. But, it's just time."

"The whole state of Connecticut has been very supportive throughout my whole career. Connecticut will always be my home, regardless of anything. I'll never forget this place This place raised me. I'm just happy to say that I played in this program."

"The reason I am who I am today is because of (Jim Calhoun), and also the other coaching staff. Coach (Andre) LaFleur, he was the one who took my ggame to a whole new level, he helped me mature as a basketball player. Every other coach: Coach Blaney has been great, K.O., Coach Miller, they've been great throughout my career."

(what type of player he'll be in the NBA)

"I think it all depends on the team I go to, whatever style they play. I'll have to adjust to whatever team I go to."

(on what he'll do for his family after being drafted)

"Whatever I can do to repay them for making me the kind of person that I am. As far as goals in the NBA, hopefully I can go into the NBA and once again prove all the doubters wrong, like I've been doing my whole life. Everybody's saying I'm too small, can't guard anybody in the NBA. Just prove them wrong."

JIM CALHOUN:

"It's time for Kemba now to be a little more selfish than he has been, to take advantage for him and his family and for everybody else, because he's been so special for us."

"It would be very hard to be a more loved player than Kemba Walker."

"We're only controlled by how others see us by Kemba, than the perception of us is awfully good, because he's a very, very special person."

(on what kind of NBA player he'll be)

"He's got some Allen Iverson, in the fact that he's actually 20 pounds heavier than Allen was when he first went to the NBA … he'll be able to score points, he'll be able to defend, he can play above the rim, and he can lead a team. Against Bucknell, he had 12 assists, there were times when he could have had 15 assists. He sees the game, he understands the game. One of the great things about him – you can get players who can run a team and are quick and fast. Well, he can run a team, he's proven that very definitively. He can score points. On a lot of teams, you're going to need that point guard to score points – Chris Paul has to do that. Whoever he's drafted by is getting a guy who's going to be great by the time he gets on the bus."

"I told him, we just don't have a scholarship for him … although we'd probably find one if we needed to."

"It's an incredibly happy day for all of us – his family, his wonferful family, and Kemba – but it's a very sad day for us to lose them, and Kemba. But, in life, you've got to keep going."

"He's done everything you can possibly do, including winning a national championship."

"He got the most singularly important trophy you can get – the national championship."

(on where he could be selected in June's NBA draft)

"One team has said No. 1. It depends on the need factor. We can probably talk about Williams and some of the other guys, it depends upon who and what you need. Clearly, from the people I've talked to so far, he's probably top 10. You want a guy who's going to win for you


ALEX ORIAKHI:

"I just wanted to be here to support him and here the good news that he's taking his game to the next level. It's definitely kind of emotional, because Kemba's one of my best friends. He's a real good dude. It's going to be sad to see him go, but he has to move on."

We'll have a couple more blog posts coming over the next hour that deal with some more specific subjects.

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