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Prep basketball: Federal Way's Talia Walton heading to Washington
Talia Walton wanted to get her college plans situated early.
And that's just what the Federal Way High School senior did this week. The 6-foot-2 forward gave a verbal commitment to play basketball next season for the Huskies at the University of Washington. She will officially sign her national letter of intent on Nov. 10.
"I definitely wanted to get it done before the season started," Walton said. "I just got a vibe at Washington and I want to come in and be a great help right off the bat."
Walton called Husky head coach Tia Jackson Monday to inform her of the decision to head to Seattle in the fall. She narrowed her list of potential destinations to four schools, also including Oregon, the University of California Santa Barbara and the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
"In the end it was really between UW and Santa Barbara," said Walton, who visited UCSB last weekend and will take her official recruiting visit to UW next weekend after taking an unofficial visit earlier this year. "I really like their style of play. And playing near my home town also helped out. There is going to be crazy support there."
During her junior season, Walton was the Eagles' most consistent force, leading Federal Way to a 13-3 record in the South Puget Sound League North Division and a berth into the state tournament for the second year in a row. Walton excelled in all aspects of the game on both the offensive and defensive ends.
She averaged 12.8 points a game and scored in double digits in all but six games this season, including a 27-point outburst during a state-clinching win over South Kitsap Feb. 20.
She also led the SPSL in rebounding during the regular season by grabbing 11.8 per game. Walton also led the league in blocked shots and was 10th in the league in steals (2.13 a game). She was a first-team, All-SPSL North selection for the third time.
As a sophomore, Walton averaged eight points and 11.2 rebonds a game, following a huge freshman season, when she averaged 14 points and 12.5 rebounds and earned first-team, All-SPSL North honors.
According to ESPNU's Hoopgurlz.com website, Walton is ranked as the 31st-best forward in the nation and the top forward in Washington. Walton is the ninth player from the state to verbally commit to a Division-I basketball program.
Walton will lead an impressive list of returners for Federal Way when basketball practice kicks off next month. Also back are fellow former All-SPSL selections Brittany Barrington, Tyshana Burgess, Jaleecia Roland and Darah Huertas-Vining, among others. The Eagles, who entered last season as the top-ranked team in Washington, will be looking to make their third-straight appearance at the Class 4A state tournament.
"We are all shooting for a state championship," Walton said. "We have everybody back and are working hard."
Walton says she has been attempting to develop more of a perimeter game during the offseason.
"In college, I'm going to be playing more as a (small forward)," Walton said. "I have been working on my ball handling and shooting from the perimeter."
The Huskies finished the 2009-10 season with a 13-18 overall record and were 7-11 in the rugged Pac-10 Conference under head coach Tia Jackson. Washington did end the season by winning three out of their final four Pac-10 games after dropping 10 of 11.
The current Husky roster includes only one senior and also includes freshman point guard Mercedes Wetmore, who Walton played against several times during her tenure at Auburn Riverside.