After leading US college to title, Tall Ferns star weighs up WNBA

Tue, Mar 7

Charlisse Leger-Walker is knocking on the door of the WNBA after her MVP performance in helping the Washington State Cougars to a PAC-12 title.

It's hard not to take notice of the Kiwi basketballer, especially after a game-winning performance worthy of the big leagues.

Leger-Walker averaged 19 points per game as the Cougars defeated 10-seed California, 2-seed Utah, 3-seed Colorado and 5-seed UCLA en route to the title. Her 76 points scored in the tournament are the most-ever in a Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament.

The New Zealand native scored at least 15 points in all four of Washington State's wins and dropped 23 points against the Bruins in the finale to secure the trophy. Leger-Walker shot 7-for-11 from the field, sank five three-pointers and also grabbed seven rebounds in that game.

Leger-Walker told 1News the celebrations in Las Vegas were a whole other experience.

“They had the big confetti, there was a big crowd there supporting the Cougs,” she recalled.

Such crowds could be something Leger-Walker could get used to very quickly with talks of putting her name forward for the WNBA growing stronger after her PAC-12 performances.

“A couple of people have reached out to me and I know my name is being put out to WNBA GMs,” she said.

“Right now I’m thinking about it more seriously – you have to be completely ready to go and I need to get to that point where I feel I am at that next level.”

Leger-Walker’s success doesn’t come as a surprise with her home back her in New Zealand decorated with MVP trophies – her family joking with 1News they may not have space for the her latest silverware in the US.

Although they aren’t all hers; Leger-Walker’s two sisters are also standouts and mum Leanne Walker is a former Tall Fern too.

Charlisse Leger-Walker celebrates after winning the PAC-12 with Washington State.

“I used to have my singlets up but [my daughters] cover over my singlets too,” mum joked.

Yesterday's conference title was the biggest achievement yet for the 21-year-old but something her No.1 fan couldn't see with her grandmother dying in January.

“When Charisse did come back and saw her in December and had to leave to go back, that was such a sad, sad moment,” Walker said.

Leger-Walker recalled the efforts her grandmother would go to just to see her games.

“She’s from Opotiki and obviously doesn’t have cable at her house so she’d drive into town and people would put the game on for her,” she said.

“I think she would just be so immensely proud of me, yelling at me from up there.”


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