Walker didn't always want to take the shot, though. During UConn's Elite Eight win against Arizona he offered Calhoun advice during a timeout before Wildcat Derrick Williams hit a pair of free throws to put Arizona up 55--52 with 6:36 remaining. "Kemba says, 'We've got to get the ball to Jeremy,' " Calhoun recalls.
Lamb had scored 12 points at the time, but he was a freshman who a few minutes earlier had missed a dunk on a fast break and who earlier in the game had come off two screens, caught the ball and ditched it when he should have shot a floater. Walker was the most cold-blooded assassin left in the tournament, and he wanted Lamb to get the ball? According to Calhoun, Walker was adamant about it. Then Walker looked at Lamb. "And you'll make those shots, too," Walker said. On UConn's first two possessions after the timeout, Lamb hit jumpers assisted by Walker. The second gave the Huskies a 56--55 lead. UConn never trailed again.
Decisions such as that one have convinced Calhoun that Walker belongs in the pantheon of one-named Huskies. Ray Allen is just Ray. Emeka Okafor is just Meka. Kemba, Calhoun believes, no longer requires a surname. Before Connecticut faced Butler in the final, Calhoun said, "He's on his way to having the greatest season of any of the incredible players that we've had at UConn."
Not bad for a "program guy" who started junior high, high school and college as a backup. But Walker waited patiently and worked for his chance. By the time he got it, he'd grown strong enough to carry the Huskies when necessary and wise enough to know that he couldn't make his championship visions a reality without his teammates' help. "There are obviously great players out there," Calhoun says, "but no one had to do more for his team than Kemba."