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Player of the Decade: St. Joseph's JoJo Walker was relentless
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Player of the Decade: St. Joseph's JoJo Walker was relentless

JoJo Walker's immense talent was clearly visible during his days at St. Joseph.

As an undersized and athletic guard that preferred to score but was just as proficient running the offense, Walker had an eye-catching game that dazzled opposing fans and players alike. 

But there was also an overlooked aspect of his rise to success. 

Walker was absolutely relentless.

Whether it was flying up and down the court at breakneck speeds or grinding to overcome a broken leg he suffered before his freshman season began, Walker never let off the gas pedal. 

That type of drive helped him land a full-ride to Portland University, where he'll be entering his senior season later this year. 

Walker earned the Times' All-Area MVP award in 2016 after helping the Knights win a CIF Southern Section championship.

Walker has been chosen as a nominee for the Times' Player of the Decade award. He is the fifth such finalist.

The 6-foot guard slashed, shot and scored his way to the CIF divisional Player of the Year award in 2016 as the Knights captured a school record 31 wins. 

Despite playing only three seasons at St. Joseph, Walker scored a remarkable 1,867 points in 93 career games, averaging just over 20 points a game. 

As a senior, he averaged 23.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 2.1 steals per game. He averaged 18.7 points a game during his junior and sophomore seasons. 

For his career, Walker grabbed 320 rebounds, dished out 551 assists and seized 202 steals. He did this despite moving to the area from Carolina, Puerto Rico, where he left his family before entering high school.

"It was hard, first, because I'm the only child," Walker once said of moving to California from Puerto Rico. "It was hard for me and my family. We're a close family. Leaving them was really hard. But I really wanted it. I really wanted to come over here and get my education and go to college. I'm on my way.

"It was the best choice I made in my whole life," he added. "... I'm thankful for coach Mott and the teachers and everything. I'm very thankful."

At Portland, Walker has started 66 of 79 games over 2 1/2 seasons, averaging 10 points a game.

Tatiana Dunlap voted Player of the Decade

"It (was) amazing," Walker said of his time at St. Joseph. "But there were hard times. Coming over here not knowing English and everything, it was hard. So many life experiences, though, that will all help me in the future." 

The Times is polling current and former coaches to develop its list of nominees for Player of the Decade. The rest of the nominees will be announced before a tournament-style voting contest will be held to determine the boys basketball Player of the Decade. Readers will be able to vote online at santamariatimes.com; lompocrecord.com and syvnews.com. Players from Northern Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County whose final seasons where between 2009-10 and 2019-20 are eligible.

There will be 16 nominees announced. The four previous nominees were Cabrillo High grad LeAndrew Knight, Righetti's Cameron Walker and former St. Joseph standouts Keith Datu and Case Bruton.

Player of the Decade Boys Basketball: Get to know the nominees before voting starts

It's almost time to vote in our boys basketball player of the decade poll, have you taken a moment to read about the nominees? Go through this collection of profiles and get ready for the voting.  We have been working to highlight the decade's best players in several different sports over the last few months, and now we continue with boys basketball. We've really enjoyed the level of participation we've had with the football and girls basketball polls, so share these profiles and the contest with your friends to get the word out and support our local athletes.  

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