To a child and teenager in Oklahoma, the Sooners are easily noticeable.
Courtney Walker couldn’t miss them.
“Local kids, they like to go to the programs they see in the newspaper and on the news,” Walker said. “I was at Oklahoma and (Oklahoma State) a lot, and once I realized I was good enough—and they were already recruiting me, I knew people (there)—it seemed like the easier decision and the more comfortable decision at that time.”
She committed to OU as a sophomore at Edmond’s Santa Fe High School. But after that season, a camp trip south of the Red River exposed her to a new land of opportunity.
“(That summer at the) End of my sophomore year, going into my junior year, (I went to) the Ganon Baker Camp—which has nothing to do with A&M, it just happened to be hosted here. Then I decommitted that same summer. I was already committed to A&M junior year before school even started. So, within a couple of months.
“I wanted to go ahead and make a decision. I realized I had made it too early in the first place. But junior year sometime is when I wanted to go ahead and make my decision so I could have a comfortable senior year.”
Walker has earned SEC and national honors already at Texas A&M, helping the Aggies to the Elite Eight a season ago.
Crucial to A&M’s 2013-14 campaign was a game at LSU in January. It was a first of three straight against ranked opponents, and Walker was called on with 40 seconds left and the game tied.
“I think the pressure was on, you could tell that before the game. But that specific 40 seconds…I was extremely frustrated the whole game, first of all. My shots were not doing what I wanted them to. I wasn’t trusting my shot, which made me inconsistent.
“So we put in a play specifically from what we saw from (LSU’s) 2-3 zone, and it had me running to the back side, because they weren’t covering it—the point guard over there. Coach Blair put me at the ‘1’ so I could go over there and take that shot. We probably ran it literally about four times in a row, and I missed, missed, missed. I finally hit it, because I just had to hit it…at that specific time I had to hit it because it was the last chance we had to run it. We’d have had to go to something else because of how much time was left. I think that’s what helped me focus and put it in there.”
Her 18-foot jumper indeed found the bottom of the net, giving A&M the lead for good in a huge 52-48 win over the 12th-ranked Tigers.
The Aggies went on to sweep the three straight ranked foes in one week. After LSU, they vanquished 25th-ranked Georgia and eighth-ranked South Carolina.
“We were looking forward to that for a while, just because they were all ranked high, they’d all been talking trash…we weren’t ranked high after we’d lost all our seniors, and (people) weren’t trusting us, saying ‘Oh well, they’re young’.
“They believed in our talent, but not in us as a team. I think that helped us push towards those big games where we got some good wins.”
With several key components returning for 2014-15, lofty expectations will be placed on these Aggies.
Which will ask Courtney Walker to lead the way.