Five years ago, Will Walker was a junior at the newly opened Bolingbrook High School. Tracy Webster was an assistant coach under Bruce Weber at the University of Illinois. At the time, Webster was recruiting Walker to play for the Illini.
While Walker ended up committing to DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright at the start of his senior year instead of ending up in Champaign, Walker and Webster formed a bond and ended up being reunited four years later at DePaul.
Walker was both surprised and pleased when Webster was hired as an assistant coach at DePaul last May.
"The first thought on my mind was back to when he was recruiting me at Illinois," said Walker. "I felt like we finally bumped heads. I liked him a lot when he was recruiting me and I was happy for the chance for him to coach me."
"I've known (Will) a long time, since his high school days," said Webster. "He cares about the game and cares about his teammates. He never quit. He came to practice every day trying to get better and he's an unbelievable kid."
Walker, who is averaging 16.2 points per game, has a work ethic that Webster admires.
"He comes to practice looking to work every day," Webster told WSCR radio. "Sometimes I'll probably keep him in practice a little too long. It's just because he wants to be out there. He wants to get up shots. He wants to work on his ballhanding, his shooting, and his midrange game. More than anything he's a real good person. He's going to be very successful in life because of all of that. He's been through some things in college that are going to help him for the future. He hasn't won a lot here. He's going to appreciate things when he gets a lot older. He's going to push guys if he goes into coaching or if he plays professionally somewhere. He's going to continue to drive. Once he starts winning again, it's going to be that much sweeter for him. He deserves it, he's a really good person."
While postseason success has eluded Walker during his four years at DePaul, he will go down in the history books as one of the memorable players to put on a Blue Demon uniform. Walker leads the Big East in minutes played this season. He trails only Drake Diener as DePaul's second leading scorer of three point field goals and currently ranks 18th amongst the school's career scorers. Walker will surpass former Blue Demon Terence Greene for 17th place with four points on Friday night.
Walker's teammates will hit the court at Allstate Arena tonight to try to bring their senior leader a rare Big East victory as he walks off Ray and Marge Meyer Court for the last time.
"It's not just senior night, it's every game we're trying to win," said DePaul captain Mac Koshwal. "It's important. I'd love to get a win for Will. He works so hard. It's his last game at home, we definitely love to bring a win for him. We work hard every day for that win. It's not going to change anything. It's the same approach we're going to have. We're just going to work hard, not just because it's senior night, because it's a game coming up."
"It's senior night for Will and our managers Tim and Alex," Webster said. "You always want to try to have those guys go out with a bang, but at the same time it's still DePaul basketball. We want to win for those guys, but we want to win also for DePaul. That's what it's all about."
WeAreDePaul.com's Scott Phillips contributed to this report.
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