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2019-20 Player Preview: Cierra Walker

The sharpshooter picked Gonzaga the second time around after deciding to transfer from Vanderbilt.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 07 Women’s - Vanderbilt at Tennessee Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Four years after missing out on Cierra Walker, Lisa Fortier nabbed one of her very first recruiting targets after assuming the post as Gonzaga head coach and convinced the Oregon native to return to the Pacific Northwest.

Walker comes to Spokane by way of Vanderbilt, where she started all 29 games last season as a junior, and will bring a significant amount of experience to the Gonzaga backcourt next season after sitting out this year due to the NCAA’s transfer rules. The 5’8” guard will help fill the void when Jessie Loera and Katie Campbell graduate after this season, and provide veteran experience to what will be a young backcourt in 2020-21 headlined by the Truong twins.

As a prep athlete, Walker was one of the best three-point shooters in Oregon history, and that skill carried over to her collegiate career in the SEC where she shoot 39.2% from the arc during her three years in Nashville and rated as one of the best shooters in the conference. Walker even tied Vanderbilt’s single game record for 3’s made in a game with eight against Auburn in January. She was Vanderbilt’s second leading scorer last season at 10.8 ppg while also averaging 2.7 rpg and 1.7 apg.

Walker had to endure a coaching change at Vanderbilt after her freshman year, when her first college coach Melanie Balcomb resigned after an 18-14 campaign in 2015-16. The next two seasons featured back-to-back 7-win campaigns, so Walker will be anxious to get back to winning ways and get a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament when she hits the floor for Gonzaga next season.

While she unfortunately won’t be able to feature this season, Gonzaga fans should be heartened to know that there’s a talented guard waiting in the wings. And who knows, maybe the Olynyk Clinic can sprinkle some magic on the women’s team as well.