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Mormon Nevada prep star from small town has big-time talent

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 15 2010 11:00 a.m. MST

PANACA, Nev. — Dantley Walker's basketball stage is limited.

Playing for a 200-student school in an 800-resident town in rural Nevada doesn't get him a lot of exposure. The competition that he and his Lincoln County High teammates face every game also leaves a little to wonder.

But big-city basketball players are not the only ones with big-time dreams. And as Walker approaches the top milestone in Nevada prep basketball history, he's hopeful that his basketball skills will take him to new places — specifically, to a roster spot for one of Utah's Division I programs.

"The challenge is to get people to say he's legit, and not just think that he's putting up numbers like this because he's playing against smaller high schools," said Dantley's father, Greg Walker, an assistant coach and teacher at Lincoln County High, located 60 miles west of Cedar City in Panaca, Nev.

Just beginning his senior season for the Lynx, Walker has already been an all-state player three times, was Nevada's 2A player of the year last year and the state's MVP for classes 1A-3A. MaxPreps named him one of Nevada's top four players last year as a junior.

If he stays healthy and avoids injury, Walker will likely finish his prep career at Lincoln County as Nevada's all-time leading scorer. He began the season with 2,183 career points, 758 behind former Reno star Luke Babbitt — who now plays for the Portland Trail Blazers. Through 12 games this season, he's scored 329 points, putting him 430 points shy of the Nevada career record.

That might sound like a lot of points to score over the next three months, but it's well within reach for a kid who has averaged more than 30 points per game for three seasons, and is near that clip again this season.

Monster games are the norm for Walker. Despite being only 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, he's already scored 45 points once this season and recently scored 37 in the championship game of the Pahrump Holiday Classic — with the clock running.

In last year's Nevada 2A playoffs, he had games of 40 and 43 points, and set a record with seven 3-pointers in one quarter. The Lynx played three Nevada 4A schools last year and Walker scored more than 40 twice, even dumping 47 on Chaparral High out of Las Vegas.

Scoring and shooting are not his only fortes. He's a true point guard that's averaging more than 10 assists, seven rebounds and five steals per game. He's already Nevada's all-time assists leader at 690 and counting.

"My strength has always been my shooting and my passing," Walker said. "I've always been able to do that better than most kids. I've always been able to handle the ball pretty good and push the ball pretty good."

Despite his impressive numbers, however, only junior college and Division II offers sit atop Walker's dresser. His size, and his level of competition, has D-I college coaches skeptical.

"I've had coaches tell me that if he was 6-foot-1 or 6-foot-2, they'd be lining up to get him. But because he's small they're not quite sure if he can do it," Greg Walker said.

Still, college coaches are lining up to monitor Walker's progress. Currently, however, none from a D-I program have yet to toss an offer his way. Every program in Utah, from Snow College to Southern Utah, Utah Valley, Weber State, Utah, Utah State and BYU, are showing interest in Walker.

Last December, BYU assistant Dave Rice even made the 10-hour, round-trip drive from Provo in the middle of a snowstorm to see Walker score 43 points and sink 10 3-pointers against Enterprise.

But Walker continues to be one of those watch-and-follow prospects. Realistically, unless he fills out and gets stronger, he's probably going to be asked by the bigger schools to either walk on or prove himself first at a junior college.

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