Bowling Green, Ky. — Western Kentucky University head basketball coach Darrin Horn announced Monday that forward Mike Walker will miss the remainder of the 2007-08 season after tearing the ACL in his left knee in last week’s game against South Alabama.
Though listed as a senior on the roster this winter, the 6-foot-7, 220-pound native of Macon, Ga., can regain his final season of eligibility by continuing to make suitable progress towards his degree per NCAA rules.
“Personally, we are all very disappointed for Mike,” said Horn. “He brought us great toughness and obviously is a terrific rebounder. Our other bigs will come together to make up for Mike’s absence.”
Walker appeared in each of the Hilltoppers’ first 27 contests this year, averaging 3.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game — both career-high figures — while shooting 60.6 percent from the floor. He has led WKU in rebounding a team-best eight times this year, including against current No. 1 Tennessee, when he was credited with a career-high 11 boards, Southern Illinois — an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 participant in 2007 — and Sun Belt Conference East Division co-leader South Alabama in the teams’ first meeting in Mobile in January, and he paced the squad in blocks on five occasions.
Actually, Walker had averaged 6.8 rebounds per game in the four contests prior to suffering the injury.
He also posted career highs with 12 steals, 11 assists and 11 blocked shots while averaging almost 17 minutes per game.
Walker opened the season with an 11-point, eight-rebound effort in a 35-point victory over Kennesaw State, and he had a team-best seven boards in a win over Murray State one week later. He recorded six points and seven rebounds to help the Toppers open up league play with a four-point win at Troy, adding a six-point, six-rebound performance earlier this month as WKU defeated defending Sun Belt Tournament champion North Texas on the road.
The Hilltoppers — who are currently 22-6 overall, 14-2 in the SBC — conclude the regular-season with a pair of games in Florida this week, beginning with a 6:30 p.m. (CST) tip against Florida International Wednesday in Miami. They have already earned one of three first-round byes at the conference tournament and will play in the quarterfinals on Sunday, March 9, in Mobile, Ala.