HERE'S HOPING the video is bright and sharp, and that the cameraman never got the shakes.
Daiquan Walker's mother, Tamala, will want to view it.
Thursday night, with 5:50 left in the junior varsity contest, Walker came strolling into Ben Franklin High's gymnasium. Cutting things a little tight, no?
"Nah, I was here before that," Walker said. "I went outside to talk to my mom. It was tough to hear her on the phone with all the noise in the gym. So it was just better to go outside and see her in person.
"She just wanted to tell me a couple things - my brother was with her - and wish me luck in the game. She couldn't come inside, because she had to go to work, but she said she knew we'd win."
Daiquan Walker, a 6-2, 170-pound senior guard at Constitution, boasts a national profile. In a hot gym that became even steamier as the game's intensity mushroomed, Walker totaled 24 points, five rebounds and two assists as the Generals edged Boys' Latin Charter, 58-56, in a rousing Public A (a k a The Super Division) battle.
The last half-minute was crazy.
Walker had the ball out front and his coach, Rob Moore, was bellowing for a timeout. The refs didn't hear him. Out of a scramble, Craig "Poppy" Slade gained possession to the right of the lane, spun around and - lo and behold! - there was Fajion Jones, standing alone on the right block.
The layup was good at 0:17 and the Warriors rushed upcourt. Several snappy passes later, Yahmir Greenlee launched a buzzer-beating trey from a shade to the left of dead-on. No go.
All winter in A, games such as this one will no doubt be plentiful.
There was even one a shade earlier, elsewhere in the city. Imhotep Charter topped visiting Math, Civics and Sciences Charter, 63-62, after overcoming a five-point deficit in the final 9 seconds of regulation. Brandon Austin (21 points) nailed a trey then Jalil Myers converted a wide-open layup after MC & S was called for having six men on the court. Khyree Wooten added 19 points. Jeremiah Worthem (21) and Abraham Massaley (15) led the Mighty Elephants.
"I'm lovin' this setup," Walker said. "The way it was before [based on enrollment; ConHigh is Class A], we played a lot of shaky teams, and that didn't do us much good. Sometimes, we played down to the competition. It can't work that way. Then it's hard to just automatically be your best again when you do play the tough teams."
All along, with college coaches among the witnesses, Walker drew oohs and aahs with highly athletic bursts to the basket, or crossovers that freed him for jumpers.
His best sequence sandwiched halftime. After nailing a way-out-there trey to beat the buzzer, he drained two more in the opening moments of the third quarter and then fed fellow big-timer Savon Goodman, an inside beast whose minutes were limited by foul trouble, for a thunder dunk. Just like that, from the ConHigh standpoint, 30-34 became 38-34.
"It's good when I get going like that," Walker said. "It makes teams pay even more attention to me and that gives the other guys opportunities. I can become a facilitator."
While the game itself would have been good enough to draw many spectators, there was also an interesting subplot. BL's best player is senior guard Maurice "Doo-Wop" Watson (Boston University commit); he and Walker are the Pub's top two returnees.
Watson finished with 16 points (two treys), four steals and seven apiece of rebounds/assists.
Because of zones, the two didn't bang heads all night, but there was occasional mano a mano.
"I've been going against Maurice since the sixth grade," Walker said. "It's always lots of fun. We're always talking. During the game, we try to take each other's head off and then we're great friends again."
Though Walker is receiving widespread recruiting interest, he said he's mostly in contact with Temple, Connecticut and Central Florida. Moore said Daiquan owns a qualifying SAT score, assuming he maintains his current GPA.
"I don't worry too much about the recruiting stuff," said Walker, who now lives on 19th near Hunting Park but spent his first 14 years, roughly, at 8th and Cambria. "A mentor is helping me with that."
At halftime, Walker could be spotted sitting on the floor outside the Generals' locker room. He appeared to be knocking on distress' door.
"I guess I was expending too much energy," he said, shrugging his shoulders. "And sometimes I don't eat the right foods. Sometimes, really, I forget to eat at all. I'm so involved with schoolwork and basketball, I just don't eat."
He is a shade stronger, however.
"Late every night, I do 100 pushups," he said. "Why then? That's my only free time."
Goodman, a transfer from Academy of the New Church, contributed 14 points (four dunks), 11 rebounds and four assists. Slade, formerly of Monsignor Bonner, shot 4-for-5 for eight points, and Tamir Bolger mixed four assists with five steals.
Also playing well for BL was forward Carlos Taylor (17 points, eight rebounds), who's bound for UMass-Lowell. Greenlee had 15 points, but was 1-for-9 after halftime. Football quarterback Eric Lark added seven rebounds.
So, what news did Walker intend to give his mother?
"I'll tell her I played well, we had a good team effort, and got the win," he said.
Tamala can see how exciting everything was for herself.
Online high school coverage at philly.com/rally.