Jada Walker solidifies herself as a key player ahead of Bahamas


Jackson Dunavant

Kentucky Wildcats guard Jada Walker (11) guards an opponent during the Kentucky vs. Radford womens basketball game on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 82-78. Photo by Jackson Dunavant | Staff

Samantha Money, Assistant Sports Editor

Four games into the regular season for Kentucky womens basketball point guard Jada Walker continues to attract attention on the court.

The 5’7” sophomore had another powerful game against Bellarmine on Thursday night, putting up 14 points and seven rebounds for the Cats.

Despite Walker stating after the game that she thinks the team could be more aggressive on defense, she herself had five steals during the night while the team as a whole forced 27 turnovers against the Knights.

Walker also earned the first double-double of her career against Coastal Carolina on Sunday, Nov. 13, racking up 21 points and a career-high 10 assists.

Though it’s still early in the season and Kentucky has yet to face a ranked opponent, Walker’s passion on the court has been visible in every game and has been critical in leading the team to four straight wins. 

“She has that dog mentality,” head coach Kyra Elzy said. “She is aggressive. She’s going to get it. She’s going to sell out for 40 minutes, and she can just literally wear that ball out. No one wants to go against that for 40 minutes.”

Walker was hardly in the shadows last season either, with her rookie year seeing the Virginia native average 10.4 points, three rebounds and two assists per game, being on the court for 21 minutes in Kentucky’s SEC Championship win over No. 1 South Carolina.

Playing with the 2022 No. 1 overall WNBA draft pick and WNBA Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard, Walker proved she could play with some of the best and is now proving she can fill in the gaps that Howard’s absence left this season.

Not only has Walker been a significant factor on the court, but her ability to step up into a leadership role this year has been significant for a Kentucky team that only has five returners on a 15-player roster.

“She’s playing with so much confidence and off the court, she’s grown so much,” Elzy said. “Her leadership ability with the younger guards, you know, they’re a little defeated right now because, it’s a transition to college, and she tells them all the time – listen, that was me a year ago you can get through this. So, her rallying around that young group of guards has been vital for us.”

Walker and the rest of the Cats are slated to travel to The Bahamas to take on their first ranked team of the season, No. 14 Virginia Tech, on Monday, Nov. 21.

Despite the Hokies being favored, Walker’s hunger for success that she brings to court makes Kentucky a team to watch out for this year.

“(I’m) blessed that she’s a Wildcat,” Elzy said.