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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


“Arizona, UConn guards share deep NYC roots “

ANAHEIM, Calif. — If Arizona basketball is a family, Connecticut’s Kemba Walker would be a first cousin, Momo Jones would be the brother and UA assistant coach Book Richardson would be the father.

Together this weekend, the Honda Center will host a reunion for the Bronx natives.

“”It’s a family affair,”” Jones said.

Walker walked off the court after his 36-point performance in UConn’s win against San Diego State on Thursday when Jones walked on the court to warm up.

“”He told me ‘I love you and do your thing,'”” Jones said. “”Coming into the locker room, not playing so good in the first half, that was in my head: ‘Wow, what it would be like to beat Duke and play against one of your brothers in the Elite Eight to go to the Final Four.””

And it happened.

“”I told him right before he got off the court, ‘I’ll see you Saturday.’ I wouldn’t disappoint,”” Jones said.

And he didn’t.

College basketball fans know Walker as a national player of the year frontrunner and as the explosive ingredient to the Huskies’ postseason surge.

Richardson knows Walker as son-like figure.

“”I have a 10-year-old son named E.J. and if my son can be any way as good as Kemba (Walker) is as a person, I’ve done my job,”” Richardson said.

Richardson coached Walker throughout AAU and maintained close contact even after relocating to Arizona with Sean Miller’s staff. Just last week the two video chatted via FaceTime as UConn — fresh off its four-wins-in-four-days Big East Tournament title — prepared for the NCAA Tournament.

“”He and his family, they’ve allowed me to coach him and become family with him,”” Richardson said. “”That’s a kid who still calls me ‘Uncle Book.’ It could be something worse.””

Last night, it appeared as if Walker wiped down the floor with a primer of New York basketball swagger for Jones to pick up in Anaheim’s second Sweet 16 game of the night.

Walker completely controlled a close game in a raucous atmosphere more than 2,000 miles away from Storrs, Conn.

Jones showed flashes of drive and demeanor, too.

“”The great thing about when you talk about NYC guards and being fortunate to be one of them, you really encourage that behavior and that swagger,”” Richardson said. “”Kemba (Walker) did a great job as he looks over, ‘Oh my God, they can’t stop me,’ like Kemba (Walker) just win.””

Walker did win. So did Jones.

“”I kept my word,”” Jones said. “”I’ll see him Saturday””

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