Sports

Decatur basketball star gets fifth year of eligibility

By CASEY OLSON, The Mirror

The already-strong Decatur Gators boys basketball team got even a little stronger Thursday.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), the governing body of high school sports in the state, awarded Decatur’s Darious Walker a fifth year of eligibility because of hardships he faced earlier in his high school career. Walker has been practicing with the Gators during the early part of this season.

“I felt good about it and was confident about it,” said Decatur head coach Kevin Olson. “But was nervous as you wouldn’t believe, waiting to hear.”

Walker’s hearing in front of the eligibility committee came on Wednesday, a week earlier than it was originally scheduled.

“There was a cancellation on Monday, so we jumped on that and went,” Olson said.

Walker, an athletic 6-foot-5 forward, was a first-team, All-South Puget Sound League North Division player a season ago. He was a solid post presence all season long for the Gators, who finished the season 24-4 and in second place in the SPSL North Division last season before winning the ultra-tough West Central District championship.

Walker averaged 15 points and eight rebounds and had several highlight-reel dunks in traffic. Walker had six games over 20 points last year, including a 36-point effort in a win over Kentlake.

The addition of Walker will only bolster the preseason attention the Gators have been receiving this year. The Seattle Times listed Decatur fifth in its preseason Class 4A rankings even with Walker’s future in question.

The Gators bring back fellow all-leaguers Marcus Tibbs (17 points a game) and Michael Hale (11 points), as well as 6-5 Cam Schilling, and add freshman Jerron Smith — the highly-touted brother of former Federal Way High School all-stater Terrell Smith.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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