Walters glad for final chance

The Wildcats received some very good news last week when they learned that Kirk Walters was granted a fifth year of eligibility. It not only gives the Wildcats an experienced big man, but it allows Walters another chance to make an impact on the program.

With the luck Walters has had, one almost expected the NCAA to deny his redshirt request. After all, the big man has had nothing but bad luck. As a freshman he was forced into playing due to a lack of big man depth. The next year he attempted to redshirt but was pressed into action midway through the year thanks to a lack of quality post play off the bench.

Then last year he suffered a concussion early in the year. Just as that healed he came down with mono. He played a whopping three minutes, but that was enough to force him to go through the appeal process.

"First of all it is a lot of stress off my shoulders," Walters said of the decision. " It's not one of those things that is a guarantee, so I am very thankful that I got it. Now I can focus on just working out and getting back to where I was a year ago."

Walter is limited but has been playing pick-up. He has also been in the weight room and looks pretty good.

"I've put some weight back on," Walters said. "I am where I want to be weight wise. It is just getting back in conditioning and getting my athleticism back."

Last year was very tough for Walters. First he was sidelined for much of the preseason with the concussion. Once he got cleared he came down with the mono. Although the illness cleared up, the fatigue associated with it never went away.

He tried to return to the line-up, but was never able to.

"It was frustrating because any time I felt better I would work harder because I knew I needed to get back," he said. "Anytime I'd do that Id get worse again. I could never get healthy from it."

Gone are Mustafa Shakur and Ivan Radenovic, two players Walters came in with. Walters and Shakur signed together, while Radenovic joined the team in December of their freshman year. It will be an adjustment for Walters to play without those guys.

"It will be weird," Walters admitted. "I've been with those guys for four years and this will be the first time that I haven't been side by side with them."

Although those two players are gone, the Cats bring in a big recruiting class. Walters is excited by what he has seen so far of his new teammates.

"We have a lot of talent coming in," Walters explained. "We have a lot of guys that are really fundamentally sound and work hard on defense."

When Walters was a freshman Lute Olson proclaimed that one day he would be an NBA player. The senior is a long way from reaching that goal, and he really doesn't seem to be worried about it. He is not worried about shooting 20-footers and putting the ball on the floor and is more concerned with helping the team.

"I have to be a force down low," said Walters. "When I am a force down low I am blocking shots, I'm getting rebounds and I'm changing games in that way."

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