It was not the cleanest break when it comes to a player leaving UConn. Samarie Walker averaged 6.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 18.8 minutes in 17 games for the Huskies in 2010-11 before leaving the program January 20, 2011.
Walker is now in her first full season at Kentucky, averaging career-highs of 8.9.points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 26.7 minutes in starting all 35 games. And Monday night at Webster Bank Arena she will compete against UConn in the NCAA regional final for the second straight season.
“I’m happier here,’’ Walker said. “I’ve grown up a lot. I was 18 then. I’m 20 now. A lot of stuff happened between then and now. I have teammates who look out for me, who encourage me to do my best. Coaches who look out for me. Other staff members. It’s just a great atmosphere here and I’m happy to be here.’’
“I think Samarie wanted to get closer to home was the overriding factor,’’ Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. “She has never to me in all the time that we’ve spent together, and we’ve been really close a while now, and I just think at some point in time if she’d had just an uber-negative experience at Connecticut that that would’ve come out. She has just never said one bad thing about that experience other than the fact that she made a bad decision as far as going away from home.’’
Walker said that she has had very little communication with those affiliated with UConn since her departure.
“I have not talked to any of the coaches since I left,’’ Walker said. “The only player that I have talked to recently is Bria Hartley. I don’t really know the other ones, the younger ones. And I haven’t talked to Kelly (Faris) or Stefanie (Dolson) or whoever else is there in a while.’’