Cierra Walker’s addition after a redshirt year was a vital steadiness for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The senior left Vanderbilt after three years and came closer to her Oregon City home. Once eligible to play, Walker was instantly the Zags’ biggest threat from the perimeter.
Walker shot 40.5% on the year from outside, where she was most comfortable shooting. Walker as a perimeter threat allowed for seniors and back-to-back WCC Player of the Year winners Jill Townsend and Jenn Wirth to have more space to work into their skill sets. She served as the heir apparent to the departed Katie Campbell.
Walker’s been a prolific shooter since her high school days, which is what first made Gonzaga offer a scholarship five years ago to the at the time Oregon state scoring champion. Walker shot 42.5% and 39.5% her final two years for the Commodores in Nashville.
Walker’s steadiness was also felt on defense as she helped limit opposing point guards and land rebounds. She averaged a steal in nearly every game as well. Walker logged the third most minutes for coach Lisa Fortier, who championed Walker’s high basketball IQ and comfortability on the floor. She started every game for the Zags except for senior night and the dreaded food sickness championship game against BYU.
Walker’s instant offense was noted in the first game of the season. In their tough fought 79-72 loss to South Carolina in the opener, Walker scored 13 points, mostly coming from outside where she shot 4-6. Walker would go on to match that made three total two more times this season.
She also scored in double digits seven times this season, matching her season high of 13 one other time. She averaged 1.14 assists per game and averaged less than a turnover a game. Walker did not get to go to the free throw line often as a pure shooter, but when she did she was phenomenal. She sank 14 of her 15 attempts on the year.
Walker didn’t match most of her junior year numbers at Vanderbilt, as her playing time significantly decreased this year, averaging 25.1 minutes per game. Fortier held a large rotation all year due to the circumstances for the season.
Walker has already announced that she plans on using the additional year of eligibility for senior athletes and return to the Zags in 2021-2022. She remains the largest outside threat of the team and will be one of the three top scorers returning. The Bulldogs will likely need to be able to lean on her and the Truong twins in the backcourt next season.
It will be interesting to see how Walker progresses for her final season with the Zags. Without a doubt Fortier would love to continue to lean on her as a perimeter option. Another year learning the system and advancing her court vision and skills will only make the sixth year senior more formidable.