Watkins Mill High School’s Dominique Walker has played organized basketball since middle school. Between church leagues, Amateur Athletic Union, pickup and high school varsity, the junior said she couldn’t get enough of the game.
But last year, academic issues forced the 5-foot-8 power forward out of the Watkins Mill (5-10 as of Monday) lineup. So instead of leading the Wolverines, Walker spent extra time with her scholastic work and took her basketball talents to the South Lake Elementary courts.
Missing most of last season, it turned out, was exactly what Walker needed. A year later, she is back — and better — averaging a team-high 16.1 points per game and evolving into one of the premier two-way players in Montgomery County.
“It made me realize that I needed to try harder than what I did before I got off the team. It smacked some sense into me to do better,” Walker said. “All you got to do is try your best.”
Walker ranks second among all scorers in the Montgomery County 3A/2A Division, but it’s her exceptional defense that stands out, Watkins Mill coach Ivan Hicks said.
“She can play inside, she can play outside, she’s just a great all-around player,” Hicks said. “[She’s] very unselfish. There are times in which she’s too unselfish.”
Walker uses her quick feet and natural instincts to block about five shots per game, Hicks said.
“Her defense first and foremost,” junior Danielle Durjan said. “She plays really good defense and rebounds a lot. It really helps us.”
Walker joined her first team in middle school and started playing for church and AAU teams soon after.
“It’s the competitiveness,” Walker said. “I guess it’s just something that will keep me in shape, while I’m having fun. I don’t know. It’s something I’m good at, it just came naturally.”
Walker made Watkins Mill’s varsity team as a freshman, averaging about 10 points in her first year.
“When I first saw her play, I said this young lady is going to be something special,” Hicks said.
She has since transformed from a quiet but efficient scorer, to an all-around team leader, Hicks said.
“Now, you can’t keep her quiet,” Hicks said. “She’s very comfortable with all the girls, she participates, she’s just very bubbly.”
Walker has developed a versatile set of post moves to help improve her scoring efficiency.
“Whether it’s low post, or high post, she can put moves on from those positions,” Hicks said.
Watkins Mill carried only eight players for most of the season. Walker and Durjan (13.0), a point guard, have accounted for about 75 percent of the team’s scoring and provided the offense with a one-two punch. The Wolverines lost six straight games to begin the season but have been a .500 team since the slow start.
“We’ve gotten stronger than in the beginning of the year,” Walker said. “I guess we just needed to get to know each other better.”