Kemba Walker has established himself as one of the best point guards in the NBA. While it's true that Walker is currently the face of the Charlotte Hornets, he never knew his fame would reach this level.
Though his shot needed some work, Charlotte decided to take Walker with the ninth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
“(Kemba) had that ‘It' factor,” Rich Cho, Charlotte's GM from 2011 to 2018, told ESPN.
Walker did have that “it” factor, as Cho noted. After graduating from Harlem's Rice High School in 2008, the Bronx native made his way to the University of Connecticut, where he won an NCAA championship under the tutelage of Jim Calhoun (2011). For his outstanding play that season, Walker was unanimously selected for the All-Big East first team.
Walker, now 28 years of age, endured a grueling rookie season, as the then-Bobcats posted a 7-59 overall record in 2011. He averaged just over 12 points on 36.6 percent shooting that season. Fast-forward to 2018, and the two-time All-Star is averaging just under 28 points.
“I never saw myself playing at this level, and shooting the ball like this,” Walker told ESPN during a late November sit-down. “I guess you could say I'm surprised.
“There were times I didn't know if I even belonged in the NBA,” Walker added. “Everyone at this level is so good — bigger, stronger, faster. There were so many guys who could do what I do. I just didn't know.”
Walker's perseverance has paid off in a big way, and fans in Charlotte have grown to love his hard-working style of play.
In his 20 appearances with the Hornets this season, Walker has racked up averages of 27.9 points on 44.9 percent shooting from the field (38.5 percent from beyond the arc), 6.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 35.1 minutes per outing.
Walker and the Hornets (10-10 and first in the Southeast Division) will be back in action on Wednesday night, as they're scheduled to host the Atlanta Hawks at 7:00 p.m. ET.