Example's Walker Plays With Chip On Shoulder, Commits to USC Upstate

The senior guard’s toughness helped her become a Division I recruit.

By Kaleb Carter

Nyla Walker admits she plays with something of a chip on her shoulder. 

So it should come as no surprise that the determination she shows on the court garnered some of her recent college interest, according to Example Academy coach and founder Barry Bradford.

“The week she earned the scholarship attention of coaches she chipped a tooth in one game, busted her chin in another and got knocked out the air in another,” Bradford said. “All this on the road, but kept playing in spite of it all, showing incredible toughness that I think also got coaches’ respect.”

On August 22 the now-senior guard committed to USC Upstate in Spartanburg, South Carolina, less than three weeks after visiting its campus. The 5-6 playmaking guard chose USC Upstate over another D-I offer from Chicago State.

Provided photo from Walker’s visit to USC Upstate.

“Throughout the whole process, I got overlooked because of my height,” Walker said. “A lot of times, people underestimate me because of my height, so that’s something that has always driven me. I feel like being undersized, so-called undersized guards have to work that much harder and make zero mistakes, work that much harder and perfect my game.”

Like most in the Example family, Walker is a South Suburban native, growing up in Glenwood. Walker spent freshman year at Marist, then the past two at Mother McAuley with fellow future D-I players in Bella Finnegan (Indiana State commit) and Faith Okorie (numerous DI offers). 

Playing with future college players during both the high school and AAU seasons, with Example Sports AAU, has expanded Walker’s playmaking abilities.

Bradford said Walker sees things happening early on the court, allowing her to make on-time passes, and she communicates with teammates in a way that facilitates connections. 

“I always try to make sure I know personnel so I can make the right decision, who to pass it to, when to pass it to them and how to pass it to them and stuff like that,” Walker said. “Being a playmaker, I feel like I have to know when and when not to take a certain shot, and when to pass the ball and when to do this and that. Just making the best decisions off a certain read.”

For USC Upstate, second-year head coach Becky Burke is only the program’s second coach in its 16 years at the D-I level.

The now-senior point guard wasn’t overlooked by the Spartan program. 

Walker, who said she appreciated the family-like and supportive atmosphere shown by the basketball program, chose USC Upstate in-part due to its Kinesiology major. She may pursue a path in athletic training or physical therapy. 

“Off the court she is as quality of a human being as you could find,” Bradford said. “She lights up the room with her personality and character. Brings positive energy to all.”

An unconventional learning process in a prep school — Walker attends campus on-site and takes remote classes in an online classroom with her teammates/schoolmates — she has found that her time thus far at Example Academy is preparing her for the future. 

“Just having to lock in, with us being so busy especially when we start traveling, you really have to lock in and stay focused,” Walker said. “I know a lot of the time when you talk to college coaches or students and stuff, they always talk about time management and how they struggle with that or how they struggle with the transition [to college]. Prep school at the academy is basically like the college experience, it prepares you for that to make sure you have time management and stay locked in.”

When she heads down to Spartanburg, she is welcoming the opportunity to chase a better version of herself with the support she’s hopeful to receive from coaches and teammates alike. 

“The basketball program … they really lock in on, ‘This is hard work,’” Walker said. “They’re very detail-oriented also. If you mess up … if one small detail is off, they’re correcting it. I’m not saying they want perfection, but they want as close to perfect as they can, you know? And that’s the vibe I got and I thought it was awesome.”

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