STORRS, Conn. -- The look of excitement and surprise was all over Katie Lou Samuelson's face when WNBA star Elena Delle Donne visited Mater Dei High in California and presented her with the 2015 Gatorade national Player of the Year award.
"They called the senior class out for a rally and I thought I was doing a photo shoot, but obviously there was other stuff going on," Samuelson said. "Elena was really nice, just awesome. I look up to her and love watching her play. It was so cool."
Megan Walker knows exactly how her future teammate with the University of Connecticut women's basketball team felt.
Walker attended the Dallas Mavericks at Washington Wizards game Wednesday in part to celebrate a season that saw her lead Monacan High to a 30-0 record and its third-straight Virginia state championship. But during a break in the action and with Walker standing near the court's baseline and the cameras on her, Delle Donne -- who was recently traded to the Washington Mystics -- came out of the crowd from Walker's right with the 2017 Gatorade trophy.
The 6-foot-1 wing from Chesterfield, Virginia, joins former Huskies Tamika Williams (1998), Ann Strother (2002), Tina Charles (2006), Maya Moore (2007), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (2011), and Breanna Stewart (2012), along with Samuelson to win the national honor.
Walker, who was named the WBCA Player of the Year last week and the Naismith Trophy winner on Monday, averaged 25.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.2 steals in leading Monacan to a perfect season. She reached the 2,000-point plateau. In last Friday's Class 4A title game, Walker capped a 35-point, 11-rebound performance by hitting a jumper with 15 seconds left to give Monacan a 60-59 win over Kings Fork.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma was at the finale.
"There's a lot of different places on the floor you can put Megan on and she'll be successful," Auriemma said. "If you watched her play in the final, when it's time to win the game she went to her strengths. She isolated herself 1-on-1 and made sure she got to the basket or got to the free-throw line and scored. She still has work to do, but she's improved a lot each and every year of high school. I was happy to have the chance to see her play and happy that she won another championship."
Walker, a two-time Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year with a 3.83 grade point average, will play in the McDonald's All-America Game alongside fellow UConn Class of 2017 signee Mikayla Coombs (5-foot-8 guard, Buford, Georgia). Walker, Coombs, and Lexi Gordon (6-foot wing, Fort Worth Texas) will take part in the Jordan Brand Classic next month at the Barclays Center in New York.
Coombs led Wesleyan School to a 28-4 record and the Georgia Class A Private school state crown. The other UConn incoming freshman, Andra Espinoza-Hunter (5-foot-11 guard, Ossining, New York) will play in the New York Class AA state semifinals on March 17 as Ossining High (21-5) will face Our Lady of Mercy at Hudson Valley Community College.
"I like the fact that they're getting used to winning," Auriemma said. "That's three state titles in a row for Megan. Mikayla got one this year and Andra's still playing. All they know is winning championships and that's going to come in handy when they get here."