Marcus Walker’s best playing days may be behind him, but he finds it hard to give up the game that once made him a household name in Kansas City.
Walker, a former O’Hara High School basketball star — and two-time DiRenna Award winner as the top high school player in Kansas City — is back in the local hoops scene. This time, he has returned as a player development coach.
After calling it quits on an overseas professional career, Walker, 27, has opened Grind House Basketball, a training program designed to develop elite talent.
On May 3, Grind House Basketball will put on the Marcus Walker High School All-American Game on at Lee’s Summit High School. The game features some of the best local and regional boys basketball talents.
Here are five things to know about the game:
1. The contest is to feature the four seniors who were part of The Star’s All-Metro boys basketball first team: Lansing forward Joe Schneider, an Air Force signee; Blue Valley Northwest point guard Clayton Custer, the Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year and an Iowa State signee; Lee’s Summit West forward Monte Harrison, a Nebraska signee for football and baseball; and Grandview guard Tyrone Taylor, who has committed to Hargrave Military Academy.
Shawnee Mission Northwest forward Brady Skeens, the lone senior on The Star’s second team, is also part of the 24-player roster, which will be split into two 12-man teams.
“I’m pretty excited about it because from the looks of it, it’s some of the best guys in the Midwest,” Taylor said. “To be in that category makes me feel pretty good about myself.”
2. For many of the aforementioned players who starred locally this season, the contest will represent their final game before they depart for college. That means one last chance to represent their high schools.
“It’s my last game before I go to Colorado Springs, so I definitely want to play well and have fun,” Schneider said. “That’s the main thing — this one is just about having fun. But it will be weird playing my last game in high school.”
Nineteen of the 24 players on the Grind House Basketball roster have signed to play college athletics.
3. The roster stretches beyond the Kansas City metropolitan area to include several players who have signed to play at high-profile Division I programs.
Sunrise Christian Academy seniors Marvin Clark and Lourawls Nairn, both Michigan State signees, will make the trek from Wichita. Nairn is ranked No. 62 in the senior class on Rivals.com, while Clark is No. 146.
Another Sunrise Christian athlete, Zach Brown, has signed with Wichita State.
North Little Rock (Ark.) point guard Anton Beard has signed with Arkansas. He is No. 111 on Rivals.
New Hampton Prep (N.H.) forward Tory Miller has signed with Colorado. He is ranked 144th by Rivals.
4. A handful of the players are still looking for the next step in their basketball careers and could make a lasting impression to interested colleges.
That list includes a pair of local players — Center senior Quincey Butler and former Hogan Prep Academy guard Amaad Wainright.
Wainright transferred to Burroughs High (Calif.) for his senior season. He led the team in scoring at 24.9 points per game before leaving the school in February.
5. Some teammates will be playing against one another for the first time in years. BV Northwest’s Custer and and Ben Richardson have been split up — with Custer playing on Team Grind Mob and Richardson playing for Team Grind Gang — as have Sunrise Christian’s Clark and Nairn.