Courtside: REBOUND: Walker looks to bounce back after off-season knee surgery

Crystal Simmons, Staff Writer

When you mention the name Jade Walker, many will not only be able speak on her gifted talents as a member of the women’s basketball team but also her charismatic personality. She is a junior and a returning player for the Red Storm this season. Walker is a 6’1 forward from Maplewood, N.J. and is going to have a large contribution to the team’s success this year.

Walker is the only returning starter in the front court for the women’s basketball team this year, and is a very strong asset to the team not only on the court but off the court as well. Although she is recovering from a knee surgery this past summer, her confidence and determination never wavers in her preparation for the season. “She’s been in and out,” Head Coach Joe Tartamella said. “She’s really committed herself to getting back in shape and strengthening her knee.” Last season she started all 34 games and was the third highest in rebounds on the team. Having a really solid season last year, and with steady improvement from last year, Walker is projected to be a big part of the team’s success. “She’s a large piece to what we do and she has really grown as a person,” Tartamella said. “Her maturity level has definitely improved both on and off the floor.”

Walker has remarkable talent as a post player and what really separates her from most, is her ability to finish. She is also gifted with incredible guard skills and, according to Tartamella, she has a beautiful shot. Not only is she a great offensive player but she has really come into her own on defense. Including Walker, many will agree that she is starting to understand how to stay in the game and not pick up fouls early. Another aspect of her game that really helped the storm last year and will continue to make a difference is her free throw shooting. “She really improved from freshman to sophomore year,” Tartamella said. “If she can continue to get to the line and help us offensively, she’s going to be a big part of us winning.”

Walker’s tremendous talent does not come without the hard work she puts in on and off the court. She has really been working on her conditioning. It has been one of her main goals since coming to St. John’s and she has been putting a lot of extra time into it. Her hunger and determination to winning with her team this season is reflected in her mindset when training for this year. While she is focused on improving herself, a lot of her passion comes from a team-oriented mindset. One of her personal goals is to be the best teammate she can be. Whether it is being unselfish with the ball by giving good passes to a teammate or finishing at the basket, she wants to make herself available to contribute to all opportunities to help her team be successful.

Many people can attest to this young woman’s character. With the two new freshmen that just came, she is really making an effort to lead. “I definitely want to set an example and let them know that I always have to go hard,” Walker said. “I was once led in that example by Amber Thompson. She always had that motor that she never turned off and I’m trying to show the freshman that hard work pays off.” Walker’s leadership is not always physical but also mental as she is very vocal to the team’s morale. She is not afraid to make her voice heard and is always a voice of encouragement towards her teammates. She is known as the team comedian as well as a spirited person. “Jade is a very funny girl,” senior guard Aliyyah Handford said. “She’s a great person to be around on and off the court. I look at her like a little sister.”  

A lot of Walker’s mentality comes from her personality and the development of her mindset through playing the game. “I think I have developed a lot more poise since freshman year,” Walker said. “I really couldn’t have done that without my team.” She describes herself as caring because she is always looking out for her teammates. “If I had to be an animal I would be a Kangaroo,” Walker said. “I’m always hype and jumpy, but I also look out for my teammates.” As a result of her attentive nature, she is a people person and not afraid to make new friends.

Basketball has helped develop her character and taught her not to take life for granted. “Every day is not guaranteed and you have to take advantage of what you have in front of you,” Walker said. “It’s been a great outlet to other things and even though you do not play basketball your whole life, this definitely opens you up to different people through networking and you find yourself going to a lot of places you’d never thought you’d be.” She has acquired a lot of leadership skills on campus not only through basketball but through her involvement with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. In addition to spending her time with these two organizations on campus and in classes, she likes to sing, talk, dance and surround herself with good people.

To describe her love of basketball in one word, she says it is her “everything.” While this is the case, that is not the only thing about her. St. John’s fans will be able to experience Walker’s attitude and elegance this season and get to watch her dynamic personality among the women’s team. This season Jade Walker is sure to represent the Red Storm with poise as she and the team work their way to success.