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

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

Walker is hopeful that a strong senior season will give him a better option.

"I've always wanted to sign D-I, but if I have to go to a JC first or walk on, then that's what I have to do. I hope I don't have to go that route, but I will if I need to," he said.

"I want to prove that I can play at the D-I level and hopefully get a scholarship from there. And I'm pretty confident I can play at the Division I level. I really feel like I can."

He also needs to prove that he can defend bigger guards in a man defense.

"I need to get stronger, bigger and just keep doing what I'm doing," Walker said. "But I think the colleges coaches that are skeptical are a little surprised when they see me play."

Before college, Walker will first serve an LDS Church mission. That delay also has college coaches in a wait-and-see mode.

"I'd love to play in Utah, but it doesn't really matter to me. I just hope a few more D-I schools get on board and I get an offer," he said.

Dad just favors a place where his son will get a chance to play, and where he'll also get a free education.

"We still think there are going to be some offers come. But I've told him before, there's nothing wrong with going the JC route. I just hope that wherever he plays that it's close enough that I don't have to travel too far to watch him," Greg Walker said.

In an attempt to overcome his small-town, weak-competition question marks, Walker has traveled long distances each summer to compete with AAU teams. For three years, he played with the Las Vegas Prospects. Last summer, it was the Utah Select.

"Dantley has an unbelievable feel for the game," said Dwayne Shellenberger, coach of the Utah Select. "He is so crafty on the floor and can flat out shoot the basketball."

In one AAU game, Walker made 10 3-pointers. In another, he had 17 points and 17 assists. Shellenberger agrees that a lack of size, strength and some questions on defense are the things keeping Walker from being a hot D-I prospect.

"There's no doubt that he's a no-brainer Juco or D-II player. He's very good. As far as D-I, I think he can get there. He's a gym rat that has so many basketball intangibles, and he's an incredible team player," Shellenberger said.

The Walkers spurned offers to transfer Dantley (the name comes from dad's favorite NBA player, former Utah Jazz forward Adrian Dantley) to a larger school in Las Vegas.

"I had people say 'you've got to get him into Vegas.' But people know about him now, either for what he's doing in our league or in AAU. And besides, he's happy out here, and we're happy out here," Greg Walker said.

And in Panaca, Dantley Walker remains the talk of the town.

"Our games are really loud and it's standing room only in our gym. And it's cool because everyone knows me and I'm playing with my friends. I love the environment out here and the games are just crazy," he said.

"There are people who haven't been to games in a long time but are coming now because they've heard about what he's doing and they want to see if he can really live up to the billing," Greg Walker added.

So far, he hasn't disappointed. Where his show stops next is yet to be determined.

e-mail: jimr@desnews.com

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