Jordan Walker, a graduate-transfer recruit to the 2020-21 Lady Vols basketball team (only the fourth such transfer in UT Athletics history) and an MBA candidate in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business, is heir to a family tradition of academic and athletic success.
“I come from a basketball family, and I also come from a family where education is held in high regard,” Walker says.
Her parents, standout athletes Jarvis and Danielle Walker, emphasized the importance of education, but they did not try to steer Walker to a particular path. They trusted that her faith would guide her and supported her decisions. Walker justified that trust, academically and athletically.
On the Mona Shores High School girls’ basketball team, Walker produced phenomenal stats, set records and was named Michigan's Miss Basketball for 2016-17. She achieved all this despite tearing the ACL in her left knee before her junior year. While hitting those milestones on the court, she was taking history and statistics AP courses and carrying a 3.89 GPA in class.
After high school, Walker chose to join her older sister, Jasmyn, who also is an exceptional basketball player and scholar, at Western Michigan University. She enjoyed great success with the WMU Broncos, including starting 54 of 64 games in two full seasons, during which she averaged 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.8 steals, even though she redshirted a year after tearing her ACL again. Simultaneously, she was taking 18- and 19-hour course loads each semester to earn her undergraduate degree early.
The next step was deciding where she wanted to continue preparing for a pro basketball career while pursuing an MBA in a quality program.
“I want to play basketball professionally, but afterward, having an MBA from a great program will be what I need,” Walker says. “In making the decision to transfer from Western Michigan, I wanted to choose a program that would be the best for my future on and off the court. I decided Tennessee and the Haslam MBA program were just right for me.”
If Walker’s approach to sports and scholarship at UT mirrors her time at WMU, the results likely will be good for her and for the college. Her undergraduate semesters crammed with course hours reinforced the importance of careful time management and a strong work ethic.
“The work ethic you put into perfecting your craft applies to school and basketball,” she says. “The time you put into either is going to shape your outcomes.”
Walker sees a time ahead when she draws from both and applies her discipline and organizational skills to other pursuits.
“I want to focus on entrepreneurship, so one goal is opening up a salon back in my hometown (Norton Shores, Mich.), and another is opening up gyms that would be used for AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and others events, customized for the players,” Walker says. “I have been to so many tournaments, this is something I would like to give back.”
To that end, Walker says UT is giving her tools to use in the future, and she expresses gratitude to her coaches and the Haslam faculty and staff who are helping her along. One encounter in particular has defined the program so far; Program director Mary Goss attended her first day of class and approached Walker afterward.
“I didn’t expect her to know who I was – I had planned to introduce myself – and she said, ‘If there is ever anything you need, or if you feel like you are overwhelmed, do not hesitate to reach out,’” Walker says. “That just set the tone. One, they know me. Two, they care for me, for my overall well-being. That was a moment that stood out to me.”
Without a doubt, Walker can look forward to many more standout moments in the future.
Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist, email@example.com