There is usually pressure for senior high school students to decide which college or university they want to attend but for Maurice Walker, that pressure is a little higher. His parents, fellow classmates, teachers and even some university basketball coaches are anxiously waiting to hear his decision.
Walker, 17, is a star centre for the Mother Teresa Titans. The team has been ranked number one in Toronto Star’s Coaches’ Poll. He led his team to victory in the game of Court Heinbutch Classic, scoring 23 points against Pickering High School in the gold medal game.
Walker has been offered five university scholarships from American schools, all of which are part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Amongst these are Georgetown University, Boston College, Virginia Tech and Texas A&M University.
But there isn’t a school in particular he is leaning towards just yet, he says.
“I don’t know much about the schools so I have to go make visits. My mom went to Georgetown University, in Washington, so she’s rooting for that school,” Walker says.
His decision depends on the programs offered and how he fits in with a team, he says.
Richard Gallacher, Walker’s coach for three years, says he knew Walker would receive this type of attention because he saw the talent even before he entered high school. They keep an eye out for youths in the neighborhood who can play well, he says, because the game is so important in the local school.
Although Walker has been presented with various scholarships, his first offer is a memory that stands out the most, he says.
“One day after practice, a coach [Western Carolina University] just came up to me and said ‘We really like you, we would like you to come to our school,’ and I was just excited,” Walker, 6-foot-9”, says.
Everyone gets letters from schools, he says, but it’s when they come down to see a student play that shows they’re really interested.
Walker’s parents, both coaches, always wanted this for him. Growing up, he was on basketball teams and his father and older brother practiced with him since he was three years old, he says.
And all that playing paid off.
“Basketball has made me a better leader and it has helped me with my time management skills because I had to juggle basketball, school and my free time,” Walker says.
Even though he hasn’t decided what scholarship he will accept, this high school student has big dreams for himself.
He wants to enter the NBA, become famous, make money and retire early, he says. Afterwards, he wouldn’t mind becoming a kindergarten teacher so he is enrolling in Early Childhood Education.
“It’s a stereotype that guys who go down to the States to play sports have bad grades, they have problems or they’re troubled. Maurice does well in all his courses and if he wasn’t going on a scholarship, he could probably go to any university he wanted to,” Renvel Johnson Gonsalves, assistant coach, says.
“Basketball is everything. It is the rest of my life. It’s my education, it’s what I want to be, it’s my dreams,” Walker says.