Longhorn Hoop Star Signs College Letter Of Intent

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Robert Walker is swapping his Longhorn gear in favor of Central Christian College's Tiger motif.

Last week, the Payson High School senior inked a letter of intent to attend the Kansas college where he will be a freshman member of the school's basketball team next year.

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Robert Walker led Payson in free-throw shooting and was a top three-point shooter this past year.

Central Christian coach Matt O'Brien is excited to have the former Longhorn hoop star on board.

"Robert is a solid addition at guard for our program," he said. "He has the ability to create shots for himself and others."

The coach had the opportunity for an up-close evaluation of Walker during a two-day tryout early this month.

"They flew me in (to the McPherson, Kansas campus) one day early so I could play with some of the team," Walker said. "The first day we played 5-on-5 and the second day I did drills and then more 5-on-5."

Walker said O'Brien told him he would probably make the school's varsity team -- CCC also has a jayvee program -- next year and probably play the "2" guard, or shooting guard, position.

"I think I played well enough to prove I can play more than one position, though," he said. "But the college game is different than high school -- it's a lot faster."

Walker left the CCC campus to return to his Payson home impressed with the school and basketball program.

"I really like it a lot, the whole atmosphere of the school is good," he said. "The coach and I got along really well."

Earning a scholarship to play collegiately has been Walker's goal since elementary school.

"Finally getting one is great, it's like a burden is finally off and I can concentrate on only playing basketball," he said.

Walker is not sure when he will report to the Kansas school but has been told coaches would like to have him on campus for summer play.

As a freshman at CCC, he will major in sports management, but hopes to play professionally in Europe after earning his degree.

"That's another of my goals," he said.

Last season at Payson High, Walker led the Longhorns to the state championship game where PHS lost to Estrella Foothills.

Although the Horns came up a bit short of winning the title, simply having Walker on the court was a genuine bonus.

As a junior, after getting off to a banner start, a broken ankle suffered during a horseplay incident with a teammate sidelined Walker.

"Having to watch and not play was tough for me," he said. "I couldn't wait to get back on the court."

Following his senior campaign, Walker was chosen to both the all-region and all-state first team and was the East tournament MVP. He won the Longhorn award for having the best free-throw percentage (79), was first in the East regional three-point contest and second in it at the 3A state tournament.

At the season-ending award banquet he was the recipient of the Longhorn award for his character and dedication to the team on and off the court.

"That was voted on by the players," PHS coach Kenny Hayes said.

During the off-season while in high school, Walker played on the club teams El Paso Suns, Blessed With Talent and Arizona Stars.

Among those who is certain Walker will do well at CCC is Hayes.

"He is very deserving and his hard work will carry him to the next level," he said. "He's been a great kid to have in our program."

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