NEW YORK -- With the lights dimmed, an oversized video was projected on to the blank wall. Kemba Walker flashed across the screen. Hustling. Grinding. Only this time it wasnt a highlight reel.
This summer Walker signed on with Under Armour, and on Wednesday night he was part of the Are You From Here? fall basketball campaign event along with Brandon Jennings, Greivis Vasquez, and fellow rookie Derrick Williams in New York City.
Its a dream come true, he told CSNNE.com. As a young kid, you always dream of being in commercials and having your own sneaker and signing with a sneaker company and things like that. Everything is just moving so fast for me. But Im having a blast.
Walkers life has fast-forwarded since leading the University of Connecticut mens basketball team to the 2011 NCAA championship in April. In June he was selected by the Charlotte Bobcats with the ninth overall pick in the NBA Draft, and the following month the 21-year-old became part of the Under Armour group.
It was only during the time off of the NBA lockout that Walker was able to reflect on the Huskies title win months earlier.
It feels like a long time, but it hasnt been that long, he said. But I still remember it like it was yesterday. I remember everything. It was a rough night, I know that. We couldnt make a shot, both teams actually. But I know we came out with a win and we were just very excited. All of the confetti started to come down and we just celebrated.
I definitely had to move fast to the draft, but being that theres a lockout, it gave me the time to let it all sink in. I even got a chance to go up there with the guys and be with them throughout the days and sit back and watch some old games and things like that. It definitely sunk in then.
Walker looks forward to joining a long lineage of UConn alum in the NBA. He feels a sense of camaraderie among those who have suited up for the Huskies, and knows he has a support system around the league.
Its special, he said. A lot of greats went to that school and a lot of those guys still play in the NBA. Its great to know that I have guys that whenever Im having trouble, I can lean on those guys and ask them questions.
He added, I actually saw Ray Allen at UConns Midnight Madness. We didnt really speak about anything as far as the NBA lockout or anything like that. I hadnt seen him in a while so we just enjoyed each others company. Ray is a great guy. I have his number so I can text him whenever I want to to get info and things like that.
Walker, a Bronx native, is excited to play his first game at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks and to return to New England to play the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. While he has yet to find out how he will fit in on the court with the Bobcats, he knows what he wants to bring from his days at the University of Connecticut to the NBA.
A winning attitude, he said. I just want to do anything possible to help the team get better. Thats really it. I just want to play my role and become the best player I can be . . . Honestly, I have no idea what my role will be. Whatever they need me to do, basically. Thats the kind of player I am.