A word that makes most people shudder and many high school students frustrated draws a grin and a laugh from Windsor High School senior Dalton Walker. It’s his favorite subject, when he’s not making opponents frustrated on the basketball court.
No deep study of mathematics is needed to understand just how dominant Walker has been for the Windsor boys basketball team (9-2 Class 4A Tri-Valley Conference, 13-7 overall). Having played in every game this season, the forward is averaging 18.6 points per game (ppg) and has scored 20 or more points in eight games. According to maxpreps.com, he’s currently second in the Tri-Valley in scoring.
Coming off an impressive junior year, where he averaged 14 ppg, Windsor head coach Dustin Duncan believes Walker’s improved offensive production is due to many things.
“His shot selection. He’s grown a lot in his decision-making and he’s done a lot better job of having a mixture of an inside and outside game,” Duncan said. “His free-throw shooting and also his ability to get to the rim (has improved).”
Such improvement doesn’t come without hard work. Having played his sophomore and junior years on varsity, Walker made the decision to focus and improve his game in the offseason by playing in summer and club leagues. The decision has paid off.
“It made me more of a grounded player and well rounded. I used to just be a 3-point shooter but now I’m getting to the ball, driving and just being tougher,” Walker said.
While it’s easy to note his offensive accomplishments, his defensive skills have improved this year, as well, even if defense may not come as naturally. Although he admits having improved defensively, he seems a bit surprised by how much, saying he often “catches himself” guarding the opposing teams’ best player during games.
He’s not guarding a star player by mistake. Duncan believes Walker’s defensive play is a key part to the Wizards’ success even if his defensive play doesn’t jump off of a stat sheet.
“He changes a lot games defensively ... he can guard pretty much every position and he’s guarded a lot of different guys this year,” Duncan said.
When a player has the type of season Walker’s had, it doesn’t take long for others around the league to notice. Having recorded 33 points against Fredrick, 30 of 47 points in a loss against Mead, and 26 points two times this season, Walker is not a secret, and someone coaches have to prepare for.
Roosevelt head coach Joe Brown knows how talented Walker is. Brown has seen Walker plenty during his four years at Roosevelt and knows the types of problems he can create.
“Dalton is an incredibly versatile kid and with his size, speed and ability, he’s an inside out guy,” Brown said. “He can hurt you inside posting up and can hurt you shooting the 3-pointer. He’s a matchup problem.
“If you put a bigger player on him and try to defend him then he has the opportunity to burn you to the basket with back-door opportunities and hit the from the outside. If you put a guard on him he has the potential to post up and do some good things there.”
Brown’s Rough Riders contained Walker well when the teams played Feb. 8, holding him to just 10 points. Although Windsor was victorious, Roosevelt’s accomplishment was a big one. The Rough Riders were only the fourth team this season to hold Walker to 10 points or fewer.
Perhaps most refreshing about Walker’s year is the positive and calm demeanor he keeps about him. His favorite memory thus far in the season is not putting up huge individual numbers, but being part of a team that after a few losses early in the year, decided not to become frustrated and fall apart but to band together.
Brown believes his attitude has helped him improve his game just as much as his physical attributes.
“He carries himself well,” Brown said. “On the court now he doesn’t seem to get as rattled and that’s definitely a maturity thing as he’s progressed.”
Walker’s ability to stay calm under pressure will undoubtedly help Windsor close out the regular season and progress into the postseason. It should also help him if he decides to continue playing in college. According to Duncan, he has interest from some Mountain West and Pac-12 schools, as well as Division II institutions and junior colleges.
While college ball will surely provide Walker with more challenges, he’ll likely take those the same way he deals with a tough game on the court ... and probably a tough calculus question.
He’ll smile and say, “you just gotta keep fighting. That’s all you can do.”