By Matt Popchock
As Hopewell guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough demonstrated at the Palumbo Center back in March, basketball is a sport in which one player can carry a team otherwise not particularly deep. It’ll be interesting to see if she can one day do out of the ACC what she’s done in three years out of the WPIAL.
Walker-Kimbrough, approaching her senior season, was recently named the Tribune-Review’s Female Athlete of the Year in concurrence with Rushel Shell’s coronation as the media conglomerate’s Male Athlete of the Year. To the best of our knowledge, that is the first time the Trib has selected Athletes of the Year from the same school. Walker-Kimbrough followed that up by accepting a basketball scholarship to Maryland, the school that seemed to pursue her the most and vice versa.
“Maryland’s style of play, they’re real up-tempo, athletic, pressing, transition, and that’s how I play,” she recently told The Baltimore Sun. “When I get a rebound, I just like to go. No half-court sets. And Maryland is a run-and-jump team. Press, easy buckets, that’s what I like to do.”
Her superiors wanted to see her improve her range in 2011-12. She did that, and then some. The 5’11″ scoring machine averaged a double-double as a junior–over 25 points, ten rebounds per game, to be exact–and delivered one of the best WPIAL Championship performances of all time. Despite the fact Hopewell only shot 30 percent, and that only one other player, in fact, converted a field goal, Walker-Kimbrough led the Vikings to victory over South Park in the Class AAA game with 35 points on 8-of-19 shooting, 2-of-3 outside shooting, and 16-of-16 free-throw shooting, not to mention 13 boards and five blocks.
Hopewell ended the season the No. 9 team in Pennsylvania according to MaxPreps.
While Hopewell will be going for its fourth district title in girls’ basketball this winter, the Terps will be trying to build upon a 31-5 record, ACC tournament crown, and Elite Eight finish. Maryland is still pretty experienced at guard, but even though Walker-Kimbrough might not get a ton of playing time right away, it certainly looks good for them to land one of the top girls’ basketball prospects in America, and it certainly makes the WPIAL look good to have the best of its best in basketball still getting opportunities with accomplished programs.
(Follow me on Twitter @mpopchock.)