Bill Walker helps lead team to state championship

North College Hill is more than just O.J. Mayo, and that was proved at the Division III state tournament this past weekend. Sophomore forward <b>Bill Walker</b> had double-doubles in each of his team's wins.

North College Hill sophomore Bill Walker may have been a second-team All-Ohio pick in Division III. But at the state tournament this past weekend, Walker proved he is nobody's second banana.

The 6-6 Walker joined classmate O.J. Mayo, who was chosen as the state's Mr. Basketball award winner, in leading North College Hill to the state championship at OSU's Value City Arena.

"We set a goal to win a state title, and we did it," Walker said. "We're on a roll. Two more to go."

Walker, rated as the top small forward in the 2007 class by, had 15 points and 11 rebounds in NCH's state semifinal win over Loudonville, a 75-42 laugher.

In that game, he unleashed the best array of dunks seen this side of a slam dunk contest.

He had a two-hand flush off a steal in the backcourt, a jam off a pass off the backboard from Mayo, a breakaway one-hand jam, a one-hand flush off a nice feed from Butler, a one-handed jam after he fielded a rebound in the lane and went back up and, finally, a nice baseline drive and reverse one-handed jam.

Walker then had 19 points and 14 rebounds in NCH's thrilling 71-65 win over Ironton in the title game.

He helped the Trojans punctuate that win: His breakaway dunk put the Trojans up 53-43 with 2:15 left in the third quarter.

"I just windmilled it and threw it down as hard as I could," said Walker. "I prefer the windmill; it's my favorite."

Walker responded to critics of the Trojans' penchant for throwing it down.

"If you go up for a layup, you could get hammered," said Walker. "The safest alternative is to dunk and at least grab the rim so you can control yourself. People have a problem with it, but if their kid was dunking, it would be a different story."

Walker talked about getting the chance to play before crowds in excess of 14,000 for each game at Value City Arena.

"It's the final four – four teams out of how many that start the season with the same goal," Walker said. "It's basketball. I love it. It was a great atmosphere."

Walker transferred with Mayo to North College Hill last year. But he suffered a preseason knee injury that denied him his freshman year. So this was his coming out party in Ohio. As a sophomore, he averaged 20.1 points, 11.3 rebounds, three assists and three steals per game.

"I really like to get out and run," Walker said. "That's my style. I play pretty physical and that opens the game up for everybody else."

But Walker wants to be known as more than just an athlete. He understands he will need an all-around game to excel beyond the high school level.

"I have different facets to my game," Walker said. "But my job right now is to basically rebound and make plays down the court."

Much has been made about the desire Mayo and Walker will have to leave school and go directly to the NBA draft when they graduate in 2007. A proposed NBA age limit may force the talented pair to consider playing college basketball for at least a year. If that happens, Mayo mentioned he would look at Ohio State, Cincinnati and a host of schools in the ACC, Big East and Big 12.

"Right now, I'm looking at everybody," Walker said. "I watch everybody."

In terms of playing together, Walker said, "We would most definitely talk about it, but that's down the line."

Next up will be the summer camp and AAU circuit for Mayo, Walker and their NCH teammate, Keenan Ellis. They play AAU ball for the D-One Greyhounds and will again appear at the ABCD Camp in New Jersey in July.

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