It would have been understandable if UK Hoops struggled while missing those three players, but the Wildcats have done just the opposite. In ascending to top-ten rankings in both polls, Kentucky has beaten a pair of top teams, Duke and Louisville, in Lexington en route to a 10-0 start to the season.
Stallworth will sit out this entire season and O'Neill is still recovering, but the Cats are about to see one of the talented trio take the floor. Walker, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, is expected to play in her first game in a Kentucky uniform when the Wildcats travel to face No. 3 Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., on Sunday.
She'll likely need some time to get her feet under her, but Walker has already proven to her teammates and coaches just how much of an impact she can make in practice.
Jennifer Smith of the Lexington Herald-Leader wrote a piece about Walker's return to the floor. Here is an excerpt:
Walker doesn't have to come in and make the spectacular play, but don't be surprised if she does.
"We'll be a better team" with Walker on the floor, Mitchell said. "She fits in well with what we do. She is an absolute beast around the basket, very strong rebounder, very strong finisher."
"Strong" seems to be the word everyone uses when asked about Walker, who averaged 6.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 18.8 minutes in 17 games as a freshman at UConn.
"She's probably one of the strongest people I've ever played against," said former Kentucky star Victoria Dunlap, who plays against some top players these days in the WNBA and as a professional overseas. "She's just really, really strong. She's difficult to box out, to get around. She made me better by making me work hard in practice."
Keyla Snowden, a UK senior guard, said she's looking forward to playing in a game with Walker.
"Samarie's going to add just another threat on offense, as well as her presence on defense," Snowden said. "Samarie being out there is going to open it up for the guards because she's such a huge presence inside."
LINK: UConn transfer Samarie Walker excited about UK debut