‘It’s something I’ll be proud of the rest of my life,’ said Matt Walker, a senior at West Hartford’s Hall High School.
By Paul Palmer
It was somehow fitting and maybe even poetic that when Hall High’s Matt Walker scored his 1,000th point as a varsity basketball player, hardly anyone knew.
“I knew I was close, but I was more focused on the game and getting the win,” said Walker. “My Dad came up to me after the game and said congratulations on 1,000 points.”
“It was a weird moment,” said Walker’s coach, Bryan Moretti. “It was a free throw against Glastonbury as we were trying to put away the game.”
The 1,000-point club is a major achievement for any high school player, but for Walker – an All-CCC selection this year – it took work, belief in himself, and surrounding himself with the right people to make it a reality. He began at the Masters School as an eighth grader, but his stats would start one year later as a ninth grader when he would pour in 406 points in 29 games before moving to Hall.
It was a period of adjustment for Walker as he found himself playing behind other shooting guards when he arrived, but he still scored 105 points in his sophomore season.
The next two seasons saw his playing time increase as well as his points and the attention he got from the other teams’ defenses.
Averaging just over 16 points a game as a junior, he ended the season with 322. One year later, as a senior facing more double teams on defense, he still managed to score 194 points to finish his high school career with 1,027.
“He’s just a bulldog,” said Moretti, his longtime coach. “He’s so tough and resilient. The plays that stick out for me are his diving for a ball or just doing whatever needs to be done.”
For the player, the memories that will last are the ones developed with his teammates. Walker said of his time at Hall, “I’ve loved every minute of being on all three teams. My takeaway is that these are friends for life.”
Walker, who has not finalized his college plans yet, is an undersized player. But that is something he has learned to use to his advantage. “You can’t teach height, so I had to study the game to get every advantage,” Walker said. “Basketball taught me to believe in myself and know that my hard work will pay off.”
He says he’d like to stay involved in the game in the future, maybe even coaching when the time is right.
In the 2020 New England Scouting Report from CT Passion, Walker was described as “an electric guard who had a gear beyond most others in the gym and was able to utilize it on both ends of the floor.”
For Moretti, it was not only the hustle Walker showed, but the class and leadership he brought to the program on and off the court. “He leads by example,” said Moretti, who’s been at Hall for 18 seasons. “The freshmen see his fire and that is the most important part of his game he has always had.”
Moretti should know; he and Walker have been involved in the player/coach relationship for nearly a decade. “We go back to his (basketball) camps, I was 8 or 9. We both have that competitive nature, that inner X-factor that connected us,” Walker said of Moretti.
As for the future, Walker will play in the CARE (Coaches Advancement for Racial Equity) All-Star Game at Windsor this Friday night with some of the area’s best high school players.
And Moretti said the best compliment he can give Walker is to say: “I enjoy being around him. He is a great kid.”
Next season there will be a hole in the Warrior lineup without Walker. “I’ll miss him next year when we need a shot at the end of the a game,” joked the coach.
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