Hip-Hop Student-Athlete Kemba Walker Graduates in 3 Years: Will Nike Call?
Kemba Walker’s schedule will be fairly tight over the next 30 days. He graduates from the University of Connecticut next month as a third-year senior. In case you’ve been unplugged, guard Walker led UConn to the NCAA basketball championship on April 4, earning him the Final Four MVP. It’s the third championship for the school. Now Walker is focused on graduation and Mother’s Day — both on May 8. One other event has him excited about the future. Barring a league lockout, Walker may be an early NBA draft.
Performing in Herculean fashion the entire month of March, Walker twisted an ankle in a regional game and disclosed that he simply felt tired. Monday night’s performance was rocky initially, but Walker rose to the occasion when UConn needed it most.
In the world of American professional sports, Walker is about as good as they come. Originally from the Soundview section of the Bronx, his mother attributes his agility to an after-school program she enrolled him in early on. The program included dance and movement. Graduating as a third-year senior is no easy feat either, particularly when scholarly pursuits are coupled with Big Ten sports participation. But, like his dance moves, he made that look easy, too. He has sincere respect for his team and humbly gave them the credit for helping him through the final game.
In the days to come, Walker will acquire agents, attorneys, publicists and assigned league reps. His world will get smaller and filled with more people. The sums of money will be unholy. But, in the world of professional sports there is one benchmark that distinguishes athletes from the gods: a Nike sponsorship. Walker has star power and proven skills on the court. No hint of scandal, but definitely Connecticut’s hero. This young man studied and excelled with enough conviction to shave a year off his college career. Not since Nike courted young Bo Jackson way back in the day has a potential African American spokesperson been so, so … likable, marketable. Nike, this is the real deal. The ball’s in your court and, from the looks of it, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you “come a-calling.” –annsonita robinson