Our second match-up of the weekend features football standout Syd'Quan Thompson up against Women's Basketball star Ashley Walker. Thompson advanced into the second round by easily defeating Charlie Wi while Walker narrowly (only 3 votes!) beat Daymeion Hughes. It should be an interesting match-up to see who comes out on the winner in this one.
Whoever does win will advance to take on the winner of the Ron Gould/ Desmond Bishop vote. This match-up comes out of the Pappy Waldorf Region and you can take a look at the whole bracket here. The full write-ups are after the jump and the voting will end on Friday. GO BEARS!
(4) Syd’Quan Thompson
My first memories of Syd'Quan Thompson was his performance against Tennessee. Most Cal fans will remember it wasn't good. Tennessee was scoring touchdowns on him. The aftermath of his performance was devastating. People were ripping him left and right saying how bad he sucks and how he shouldn't be playing. But what a lot of those people didn't realize was that Syd's problems against Tennessee were because he was wearing a cast on one of his wrists and he couldn't tackle. The problems weren't that he was blowing coverages. And if my memory serves me correctly, I don't think Tennessee really scored a touchdown over Syd; their touchdowns came from underneath passes where their WRs sort of ran over Syd's one handed attempts to pull them down. In other words, Syd's problems weren't really his coverage abilities. I'm not sure many Cal fans realized that though.
In my eyes, when I saw Syd see his first real reps in practice and on the field in 2006, my opinion was that Syd was a solid practice player. He covered his men well, and was around the ball when it was headed in his direction. He seemed like a solid player with a pretty good chance at being a great CB. A lot of Cal fans thought to the contrary though.
I had no idea Syd'Quan Thompson would be as good as he is today but I got my first hint that he might be this good at the 2006 Cal Football Awards banquet. At that banquet Daymeion Hughes (now Dante Hughes) won one of the defensive player awards.
When he took the stage to accept his award, he went through the usual thanks to family, coaches, and friends. Then he did something a little different. He went on to encourage the younger CBs to keep at it, practice hard, and don't give up. He said they could be as good as him. Then he singled out Syd'Quan Thompson. He said to Syd, in front of the entire banquet, that Syd could be better than him. He said it many times. "Syd, you can be better than me." He said it with conviction. He knew it.
I've talked about this many times before, but when somebody really good at their trade points out that someone else can be just as good or even better, you better listen. Those that are some of the best at their trade know what it takes to become the best, and who has what it comes to be the best. In 2006, Dante Hughes was one of the best CBs in the nation. He knew what it takes to get there, and he saw that Syd'Quan Thompson had it too.
(5) Ashley Walker
Ashley Walker is believed by many CGBers to be the best player in the history of the Cal women's basketball program. Walker has many accolades that would support this assessment:
Pac-10 All Freshman team in 2005-06
Named first team All-Pac-10 three times; she is one of only four Cal players to be first team All Pac-10 twice.
Pac-10 scoring champion as a senior when she averaged 19.8 PPG
Named to the Pac-10 All Defensive team twice.
Walker led the Cal basketball team to unprecedented heights, as Cal went to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history in Walker's senior year. That tournament provided a shining example of Walker's greatness.
Nor Cal Nick:
"My favorite memory of Walker is somewhat bittersweet. Not surprisingly for a player who seemed to get better each game over four years, Walker played her best in her final NCAA tournament. First, she shot 9-12 for 21 points in an easy win over Fresno St. Then she destroyed Virginia, shooting 14-20 for 32 points along with 10 boards. And for the first 14 minutes against #1 UConn Walker kept it going, hitting threes, getting inside, grabbing boards and generally frustrating Geno Auriemma. UConn still cruised to victory, but Walker finished with 21 points. I firmly believe that Cal would have beaten just about any other team in the nation that day the way the team, and Walker, were peaking."
Walker was drafted 12th overall by the Seattle Storm in the 2009 WNBA Draft. She was waived by the Storm in 2010 and later played for the Tulsa Shock. She has signed a training camp contract with the San Antonio Silver Stars. Walker also plays professionally in Israel, where she was the league's MVP in her first season there in 2010.