PG West: Moon's Walsh transfers to Akron, hopes to get more game time with Zips

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

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Keith Dambrot recruited Brian Walsh once before. It simply took Dambrot a few years to land Walsh.

Walsh, a former star basketball player at Moon Area High School, left Xavier University in June and recently decided to transfer to the University of Akron. He will sit out this coming season and be eligible to play for the Zips in the 2011-12 season.

Dambrot has been highly successful in six years as Akron's coach, winning more than 20 games five consecutive years. When Walsh played at Moon, Dambrot recruited him, and Walsh gave serious consideration to the Zips.

This time, he gave his future to the Zips.

"I'm real comfortable with coach Dambrot because he's been there a while and recruited me in high school," Walsh said. "That meant a lot."

A few other schools were interested in Walsh, including St. Joseph's. But St. Joseph's and Xavier are both members of the Atlantic 10 Conference and when a player transfers within the conference, he is ineligible for two seasons instead of one.

Walsh, who had close to a 3.5 grade-point average at Xavier, will have two years eligibility at Akron. He plans to be a business major.

"When I decided to leave Xavier, it was like starting the whole recruiting process over again," Walsh said. "It was somewhat of an easy decision because of coach Dambrot. Some of the other coaches are still [at Akron] from when they recruited me before, and it was nice to hear back from them. They really wanted me to come.

"The school really has put up a lot of buildings over the past three years and the basketball program is winning. I thought it was a good fit."

So, for this 6-foot-4 1/2, 205-pound guard, it is a move across Ohio -- from the Queen City to the Rubber City. It's a change in conferences -- from the Atlantic 10 to the Mid-American.

But it's still Division I basketball.

"I would love to still be at Xavier. I really liked the place," Walsh said. "But that's just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes and you just have to roll. I know I can play at that [major-college] level. ... Even though I didn't get the attention and get 30 minutes a game at Xavier, I think my game has improved and I think I can show that at Akron."

Walsh was recruited to Xavier by coach Sean Miller and was redshirted as a freshman after sustaining wrist and back injuries. Miller, a standout as a player at Blackhawk High School and Pitt, left Xavier for the University of Arizona after Walsh's freshman year and Xavier assistant Chris Mack took over.

This past season, Xavier made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament and beat Pitt in the second round. But Walsh played in only 21 of 35 games, averaging 4.7 minutes and 0.9 points.

When shooting guard Jordan Crawford made himself eligible for the NBA, Walsh thought it might help his playing time for the upcoming season.

"At the beginning of June, I had a meeting [with Mack], and we talked about his expectations and mine," Walsh said. "They were a little different. I didn't really get a chance to show my talents the past two years and he didn't see me playing as much as I thought I would. ... The both of us just thought the best thing would be to get out."



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