Shatori Walker-Kimbrough was getting annoyed.
The Terrapins women’s basketball guard had trouble doing a ballhandling drill during a post-practice workout last week. Assistant coach David Adkins wanted Walker-Kimbrough to move on to shooting exercises, but she kept dribbling until she mastered the drill.
“I don’t really practice until I get it right, I try to practice until I can’t get it wrong,” Walker-Kimbrough said. “When I’m messing up, it just frustrates me because I’m trying to get it right every single time, not just once.”
Still, the Aliquippa, Pa., native’s work habits have helped lead to her strong start to the season. Walker-Kimbrough looks to continue her form when the Terps play Delaware State tomorrow night at Comcast Center.
The freshman has been a top scoring option for the Terps off the bench, averaging 9.9 points per game, which ranks second on the team. The 5-foot-11 shooting guard is also shooting 52.6 percent from three-point range, tied for the team’s best mark with guard Laurin Mincy.
A former three-sport athlete at Hopewell High School, playing volleyball, basketball and running track and field, Walker-Kimbrough has been fully focused on basketball since coming to College Park.
“The scary thing is she hasn’t even scratched the surface,” coach Brenda Frese said. “This is the first time she’s focused on one sport, which is basketball, when she’s been a three-sport athlete.”
The same athleticism that helped Walker-Kimbrough thrive in multiple sports has been a key factor in her performances so far with the Terps. Her 14 steals are second on the team, as her quickness provides a spark for the team’s high-pressure defense. Her up-tempo mentality also helps the Terps’ transition offense, as Walker-Kimbrough is often one of the first players in the opposition’s half-court after a steal or a rebound.
She has focused on her ability to run fast breaks during the season, and playing alongside two-time ACC Player of the Year Alyssa Thomas has been significant to Walker-Kimbrough’s improvement. She watches how the forward slices through opposing defenses and tries to incorporate that into her game.
“When we’re watching film, I looked up to her to watch how she gets out in transition,” Walker-Kimbrough said. “I’ve seen her do it, so that’s how I’m starting to get better at it.”
Against Siena on Monday, Walker-Kimbrough and Thomas exploited the Saints’ defense in transition, contributing to the Terps’ 30 fast break points that night. The team’s ball movement was also a significant factor in its offensive performance against Siena, and the Terps hope it continues against Delaware State, which they beat 108-33 in December 2011 for the largest margin of victory in program history.
Walker-Kimbrough’s contributions have helped the team take control during its matchups this season. Her perfectionist attitude might cause her some stress at times, but that same demeanor has been key in her development during her freshman year.
“We’re actually, in kind of an ironic way, trying to help her be less perfect,” Frese said. “That’s why she continues to really break the mold when you look at her percentages and how she’s shooting the ball because she’s never satisfied. It’s fun to coach a player like that.”