Walker Named Best Offensive Player, Vital Selected Best Defensive Player
April 15, 2008
BERKELEY, Calif. - California junior forward Ashley Walker was named the team's Best Offensive Player for the 2007-08 season, and sophomore guard Natasha Vital garnered the Best Defensive Player award Tuesday night at the team's annual awards banquet at the Doubletree in the Berkeley Marina. This year's banquet celebrated the best season in school history.
Other awards announced were:Most Improved - Rama N'diayeAcademic Achievement - Lauren GreifAlisa Lewis Heart and Hustle - Krista FosterPractice Player of the Year - Ashley WalkerBest Free Throw Shooter - Ashley Walker (78.1%, 118-151)Best Rebounder - Ashley Walker (9.3 rpg)
Walker has earned an assortment of other honors for her play during 2007-08, including State Farm/WBCA and Associated Press honorable mention All-American, first-team All-Pac-10 and first-team Pac-10 All-Defensive. Walker was a candidate for three National Player of the Year honors - the Wade Trophy, Naismith Trophy and Wooden Award. The Modesto, Calif., product finished the season first on Cal in scoring (15.3 ppg, 3rd Pac-10), rebounding (9.3 rpg, 1st Pac-10), blocks (1.4 bpg, 3rd Pac-10) and free throw percentage (78.1%, 5th Pac-10) and was second in field goal percentage (51.4%, 4th Pac-10) and steals (1.2 spg). Walker tops the Pac-10 in double-doubles (14) and has 34 for her career.
Walker, a 2007-08 second-team Sports Illustrated All-American, is the only player in school history with at least 1,000 points, 800 rebounds, 200 assists and 100 blocks. She is seventh all-time in Cal history in points (1,470), fifth in rebounds (824) and third in blocks (139). Walker has 200 career assists.
Vital, an honorable mention All-Pac-10 and honorable mention Pac-10 All-Defensive recipient, averaged 7.8 ppg, 4.1 apg, 3.2 rpg, 0.9 spg this season. A product of Stockton, Calif., Vital was often assigned to guard an opponent's best perimeter player. Against Stanford Feb. 26, she was a major factor in Candice Wiggins, the 2008 State Wade Trophy winner, posting only 13 points on 4-of-19 shooting from the floor. Vital was fourth in the conference in assists and has 269 for her career, putting her 23 away from cracking the top 10 list in school history.
Walker, the Practice Player of the Year, also led the Bears in free throw percentage (78.1%) and rebounding (9.3 rpg). Her 317 rebounds broke the previous school record of 312, set in 1977-78 by Colleen Galloway.
Sophomore forward/center Rama N'diaye earned the team's Most Improved player award after posting 6.7 ppg and 5.6 rpg. The product of Dakar, Senegal, also recorded three double-doubles this season and was selected the MVP of the Contra Costa Times Classic.
Sophomore Lauren Greif received the Academic Achievement Award for having the team's highest GPA. Greif was a second-team Pac-10 All-Academic choice and was picked to Sports Illustrated's All-Braniac NCAA Tournament team.
Cal finished the season with a 27-7 record, breaking the 1983-84 Bears' (24-8) school record for wins in a season. The Bears earned their third straight NCAA Tournament bid for the first time in school history and defeated San Diego in the first round (77-60) for the program's first NCAA Tournament victory in 15 seasons. Cal was ranked in the top 10 in the nation for 12 straight weeks, grabbing a school-record No. 8 ranking several times. The team placed an all-time best of second in the Pac-10 with an all-time best 15-3 mark after leading or holding a share of first place until the final game of the conference season.