January 22, 2008

Walker finding his groove for Wildcats

While his teammates wound down the afternoon practice by shooting around on the court, a playful Bill Walker on Monday discovered yet another way to liven things up in Bramlage Coliseum. Spying jaw-clenching Kansas State head coach Frank Martin marching toward the baseline, a hundred thoughts rolling through his head in preparation for a road test at Colorado, Walker threw an overhead pass toward the corner and yelled, "Hey, I want to see Frank shoot a jump shot!"

"Frank," Walker pleaded, "shoot a jump shot!"

Really, the result of the shot attempt isn't what's important. We won't go there. Let's just say it will stay within the Wildcats' basketball family, the one between the young players and their 41-year-old first-year head coach, which continues to grow tighter with each practice and contest. Of course, every family needs a mischievous, kind-hearted and well-intentioned youth to brighten up the place. That's where the 20-year-old Walker, the Wildcats' high-spirited redshirt freshman and dangerous power forward, comes in.

"It's who he is," Martin said. "I love people who have incredible passion. I don't enjoy being around people who have no passion. That passion that he has makes me excited to be his coach. Off the court, he's also a young man who wants to enjoy life, laugh and relax. He lives in the moment."

At the moment, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Walker was ambling toward the locker room behind Martin. But not before point guard Jacob Pullen, another of the Wildcats' talented freshmen, caught his energetic teammate and implored him to do one of his many comedic impressions for a visitor.

"Do the Dominique Sutton," Pullen said. "Pull those undershorts down."

(Walker yanks his purple gym shorts up to his chest, pulls his white spandex under layer toward his knees and walks with a big smile on his face.)

"That's him right there," Pullen chuckled as Walker paused to regroup. Oh, but Walker was just getting going.

"I tell you now, if you don't get over there and guard the ball they're going to crush your (expletive)," Walker shouted next, doing a spot-on impersonation of assistant coach Brad Underwood. "Go over and guard them now!"

That one sent teammates howling.

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