Anyone who has had a chance to watch Wilma Davis and Nakeisha Walker on the court know they have talent. And this past summer, several of the country’s top high school players had that same opportunity.
Walker and Davis, now seniors at West Point High School were selected to participate in the USA Junior National basketball tournament in Columbus, Ohio; a showcase of some of the best high school talent on the court where the players get a chance to work one on one with college coaches and get on the radar of some of the nation’s best programs.
The journey started weeks before when the two girls were selected to play in an all-star game at Millsaps College in Jackson against top players from neighboring Louisiana. For Walker, it was her first time being chosen for an honor such as that.
“It was different, but it was fun,” she said. “I learned a lot from different coaches. One coach covered what I already knew and another I’d learn something new from. It’s good for your development.”
For Davis, this was just another honor to add to her resume which included AAU selections and participating in competitions across the country including in Atlanta and Indianapolis. But the teammates shared the experience of traveling to Ohio together.
“It’s huge,” Davis explained. “Big cities and lots of things to do,”
“Easy ways to get lost too,” Walker added.
Upon arrival, the players were introduced in the opening ceremony and given their uniforms followed by team practices. Just one day of practice.
“We had one day to adjust to people you never played with before,” Walker said. “You basically had to figure out how each person plays while your in the game, so that made it difficult. But by the end of the week, you pretty much knew what each person could do.”
The teams however, weren’t all juniors. Some had seniors and even sophomores sprinkled in and that made the adjustment a little tougher for the West Point natives who were looking to make a good impression on the national stage.
Both agree the biggest adjustment was learning how to play college level basketball, something they weren’t exposed to that much.
“We got a chance to see how the college system kind of works,” Davis said. “That was a learning experience.”
Walker says she had to re-learn some of the basic fundamentals of the game, such as pressing, while Davis says her coach treated the players more like adults, allowing the players to fix their mistakes with minimal interruption.
Although they were from the same high school, they were placed on different teams; Walker with girls from Mississippi and Louisiana, while Davis had teammates from Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Mississippi and Washington.
When they reached the hotel, Walker sent Davis a text message to make sure she arrived safely. Davis responded with “I’m leaving it on the court. You better do the same.” It just so happened that one week later, they met in the championship game. Davis won the gold and Walker settled for silver.
“I would have never imagined we would play in the championship game,” Davis said. She explained that they played against each other in Jackson as well as an earlier round in the national tournament.
“We were at a disadvantage though,” Walker protests with a smile on her face. They both forgot the final score, but to them it really didn’t matter.
“I think we respect each other as players to be able to compete against each other and still have a mutual friendship,” Walker said. “It’s nothing for us to compete against one another because we know we’re making each other better.”
The girls managed to find time to catch some of the cities tourist attractions; Davis went to the mall while Walker decided to put her taste buds in overdrive at the annual Jazz and Rib-Fest in downtown Columbus.
By the end of the week, the girls agree they had learned a lot both on and off the court and look forward to finishing their high school career as better players and teammates.
“It makes you think about when your in high school, what your actually competing against,” Davis said. “Everybody’s not going to play college ball, but it’s an eye opener for you to see some things you have to work on. When you compete at the college level, it’s a whole different level
And for Walker, she got a chance to play every position.
“It was a big step for me to play different positions,” she said. “I learned something new everyday though.”View more articles in: