Could Cameron Walker shoot?
Yes, he could.
Could he handle the ball? Absolutely.
Did his athleticism allow him to play above the rim? No doubt.
Did he have the size and ability to affect games on the defensive end? No question.
Cameron Walker could do just about anything on a basketball court. But that's not what made him special.
Walker did all those things on the court at an elite and consistent level.
Walker developed a reliable outside shot during his time at Righetti High. He was a very good ball-handler who was able to run the offense or create his own shot.
But, at 6-foot-7, his athleticism, length and size allowed him to do all those things on a higher plane than everyone he was playing against.
Walker has been chosen as the fourth Player of the Decade nominee. The Times is compiling a list of 16 candidates for its Player of the Decade contest.
Walker was named All-Area MVP in his sophomore and senior seasons and All-Area co-MVP in 2014, his junior year. Kevin Barbarick, currently Righetti's athletic director, coached Walker all four years he was on the varsity team with the Warriors. Barbarick has decades of coaching experience.
"Cameron is the best I've ever coached," Barbarick once said of Walker. "And he has handled everything with such class. Cameron is so humble. He's a good person."
Walker averaged 21 points and 11-plus rebounds a game as a senior. Walker played all five positions on the floor during his prep career. He averaged 22 points and 12 rebounds a game as a junior, splitting the All-Area MVP award with Cabrillo's Chad Brodhead.
Not many high school basketball players get recruited to play in the Pac-12. Almost no high school basketball players on the Central Coast get recruited by Pac-12 schools. But Walker was and is likely the most highly sought after boys basketball recruit the area has seen since Derrick Jasper, who went from Paso Robles to Kentucky.
Walker was recruited by Johnny Dawkins at Stanford and signed with the Cardinal in 2015. Walker played at Stanford in his freshman and sophomore seasons. He did not play in 2017-18 and was medically disqualified by the NCAA ahead of the 2018-19 season, allowing him to stay on scholarship at Stanford but exempting that scholarship from counting against the maximum allotment for the basketball program.
Walker graduated from Stanford last year.
In high school, Walker played with a grace that belied his explosive athletic ability. This area has rarely seen a player able to fly through the air for dunks of game-changing blocks. But Walker also had elite passing and ball-handling skills as well, becoming a once-in-a-generation talent.
The Times is polling current and former coaches to develop its list of nominees for Player of the Decade. The rest of the nominees will be announced before a tournament-style voting contest will be held to determine the boys basketball Player of the Decade. Readers will be able to vote online at santamariatimes.com; lompocrecord.com and syvnews.com. Players from Northern Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County whose final seasons where between 2009-10 and 2019-20 are eligible.
VOTE: Tatiana Dunlap voted Girls Basketball Player of the Decade!!
GBB: Player of the Decade Final RoundUpdated
Kaitlyn Flowers vs. Tatiana Dunlap
Flowers made it to the final round without too much drama. Dunlap, on the other hand, had to grind out a win over the top remaining seed.
Dunlap narrowly fended off Ashlyn Herlihy of Arroyo Grande in the semifinals. It was a close fight, but Dunlap pulled away late to score the victory, 1,089 to 876.
On the other side of the bracket, Flowers cruised past Heather Madrigal, who played at both St. Joseph High and Arroyo Grande with Flowers and Dunlap, in the semifinals. Flowers voters have consistently led the round-by-round voting.
In this round, Flowers received 1,443 votes, edging Madrigal, who tallied 1,023 votes as of 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Voting ran from Wednesday, Oct. 28 to closing at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
In all, 4,431 votes were cast in the semifinal round. There were 3,044 votes cast in the quarterfinals and 4,500 votes in the opening round, meaning readers have cast about 12,000 total votes in this contest.
Flowers led the opening round with 446 total votes. She then had 520 in the quarterfinals before taking in over 1,400 votes in the semifinals. Dunlap had 422 votes in the opening round, then 351 votes in the quarterfinals before hauling in 1,089 votes in the semifinals.
Flowers defeated Lompoc grad Danielle Morgan 446-187 in the first round and Cabrillo High grad Erin Jenkins 520-88 in the quarterfinals before defeating Madrigal in the semifinals. Dunlap beat Santa Ynez grad Hailey King in the first round 422-76 and Righetti grad Mariah Cooks 351-260 in the quarterfinals.
Dunlap won a CIF state title in her sophomore season with the Knights. Flowers was a freshman that year and, as fate would have it, filled in for an injured Dunlap in the state title game, giving the Knights valuable defense and rebounding in their win over Bishop O'Dowd.
In Dunlap's three seasons at St. Joseph, she scored over 1,300 points and the 5-foot-8 guard averaged 23.7 points, 3.0 assists, 9.2 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game as a senior.
Dunlap earned one All-Area MVP award, during her senior season. For her career, Dunlap averaged 15.1 points over 87 games with the Knights. As a junior in 2011-12, Dunlap averaged a double-double for the season, with 15.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, while also dishing out 3.0 assists and swiping 2.4 steals per game.
A 2014 St. Joseph graduate, Flowers eventually scored over 1,400 points during her Knight career. As a senior in the 2013-14 season, she averaged 17.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 4.8 steals per game.
As a junior, Flowers averaged 18.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 4.7 steals. As a sophomore, she scored 18 points a game, adding 4.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 4.4 steals per game. She finished her St. Joseph career with 1,448 total points, 503 total rebounds, 326 assists and 391 steals in 110 games. She averaged 18 points a game over the 75 games she played in her sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
Flowers also averaged nearly five steals a game in that span.
Readers have cast votes on the Santa Maria Times' three websites, santamariatimes.com; lompocrecord.com and syvnews.com. The voting for the final round is now live on those three websites and will close on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. The Times polled current and former coaches to develop its list of nominees for Player of the Decade.