Whoos In Town: Wally Walker

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a monthly series about former University of Virginia legendary athletes and what they choose to do when they return to Charlottesville.

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: Baltimore Sun

Wally Walker shot his way into legendary status as a Wahoo basketball star during the 1975-76 season, as he led Virginia to its first ACC Tournament championship.

We called him “Wonderful Wally” for a reason. Miffed over the fact that he was left off the All-ACC first team that senior season, the 6-foot-7 forward lit up three nationally-ranked opponents in three nights en route to the Cavaliers’ championship. Walker capped off one of the best individual seasons ever by a UVA player by scoring 21 points in the title game against North Carolina, earning him the Everett Case Award as the ACC Tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

Not only did he lead UVA to its first ACC Tournament crown, but to its first NCAA Tournament. His number 41 was retired by UVa shortly afterwards.

Walker averaged 22.1 points per game, the sixth-best in UVA history as a senior and went on to become the No. 5 overall pick of the 1976 NBA draft (Portland) and was a member of the Trail Blazers’ 1977 World Championship team. The following year, he was traded to Seattle (’79 NBA champs).

After his playing days, Walker moved to the NBA front office, rising to president and general manager of the SuperSonics in 1994. He led the franchise to its greatest seasons in its history.

In between his playing NBA playing career and his front office posts, Walker attended grad school at Stanford, which resulted in him starting a financial investment company, Hana Road Capital, which he still leads today. He also served on the UVA Board of Visitors from 1997-2001.

In 2001, Walker was one of five former collegiate players named to the Hillyard Silver Anniversary All-America basketball team, which was selected by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Joining Walker on that team were John Lucas (Maryland), Quinn Buckner (Indiana), Ron Lee (Oregon), and Phil Sellers (Rutgers).

 

What “Wonderful Wally” loves about Charlottesville

When did you last visit?

“I was in Charlottesville in early March to see the Pitt game. I was also there in January for a meeting of the Miller Center Governing Council.”

What did you do?

“I’m a member of that Council and try to get back a couple times per year for the meetings. I tend to come back for specific meetings or events, like games.”

Who did you see?

“I always try to see my longtime friend Barry Parkhill and spend time with friends from school.”

Where did you go?

“I’ve visited The Downtown Grill, Ten, Orzo, Boar’s Head Inn, and Bellair Market. I do visit the Lawn semi-regularly, mostly around an event like my son’s graduation.”

What did you think (about your college town)?

“I love Charlottesville … always have and always will. I grew up in a small college town in Pennsylvania (Millersville), so Charlottesville has always felt like home. Then you add the intellectual vitality and an emotional connection to the University and you have one of the world’s best places.”

Comments

  1. Ray Severin Sr says:

    Loved watching him and Barry! Great to hear how much he loves our town! Wahoowah!!

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