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Former NKU star Walton inks professional contract in Finland; averaged 16.1 points as a senior

By Bryan McEldowney
Northern Kentucky University

Recent Northern Kentucky University men’s basketball graduate Dantez Walton signed his first professional contract to play for Kataja Basket Club in Joensuu, Finland, which competes in the top Finnish league Korisliiga.

“Personally, I think this is a great start to the beginning of my career as a pro athlete,” said Walton. “This is a top league, so I expect nothing less than top competition. Also, none of this would be possible without the support and love I get from NKU, and of course the man above.”

Walton averaged a team-best 16.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in leading Northern Kentucky to its third Horizon League Tournament crown in his four seasons on campus.

NKU’s Dantez Walton converts a short jumper against Eastern Kentucky last season. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

“I’m so happy for Dantez,” said NKU head coach Darrin Horn. “From the day I met him, I knew he had untapped potential, and for him to achieve what he did last year was really special to see. He bought into what it takes to become a pro and put in so much work to make this happen. Dantez is as good of a kid as I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching. This is just the beginning of a long pro career for him.”

The magnitude of Walton’s growth over the last year, along with the investment required to achieve those gains, is not lost on the forward. “My last year at NKU changed my life forever. The love I have for not just my teammates or coaching staff, but for everybody in the program, will last forever. We went to war this year and faced a lot of adversity, and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else.”

A native of Lima, Ohio, Walton was a vital cog in Northern Kentucky’s rise to prominence in the Horizon League. He was a part of five Horizon League championships, two regular-season and three tournament titles. The Norse qualified for the postseason all four years during his time in Highland Heights, including three NCAA Tournaments (2017, 2019, 2020) and one NIT (2018).

In his last game with the Norse in the 2020 Horizon League championship contest, Walton eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau and finished his career with 1,008 points, 522 rebounds and 181 assists.

Kataja has been one of the top teams in the Korisliiga over the last 18 seasons, winning seven regular-season crowns and making eight appearances in the play-off championships, which includes two titles. The team has also qualified for the last five FIBA Europe Cups.

Walton, who is eager to get started for Kataja, is ready for what lies ahead. “I’m most excited about actually playing a game since it’s been so long,” he said. “I’m also excited to have the opportunity to explore a different country.”

NKU repeated as Horizon League Tournament champions this past March. It marked NKU’s third Horizon League Tournament crown in four years. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

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