Trib HSSN May Madness: Neil Walker, Pine-Richland vs. T.J. McConnell, Chartiers Valley

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Wednesday, June 3, 2020 | 9:00 AM


Over a month and a half, May Madness will determine who fans believe is the WPIAL Athlete of the Century.

HSSN has put together two 32-player brackets, one for the boys and one for the girls, of WPIAL alums. Outside of a few exceptions, the field is made up of former district players who excelled in more than one sport.

Each weekday, May Madness will have one matchup each on the boys and girls bracket with a little background info on each athlete found in a daily tale of the tape.

Starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday and running through 9 a.m. Thursday, vote on the HSSN twitter page on the two athletes featured in this second round matchup.

Check the HSSN website at noon Thursday for the matchup’s final results.

Here is the contest for the boys. Round 2, Day 8:

Neil Walker vs. T.J. McConnell is a battle of north vs. south in a matchup of a multi-sport athlete who is playing in the MLB against a one sports star who is currently in the NBA.

Neil Walker — Pine-Richland Class of 2004

(Baseball, football, basketball)

• Defeated Josh Lay of Aliquippa in the first round, 76-24%.

• 2004 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review male co-athlete of the year.

• 2004 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Terrific 24 football and Diamond Dozen all-star teams.

• In four years as a starter on the Rams baseball team, the switch-hitting catcher hit .504 with 32 home runs and 102 RBIs.

• In his senior season, Walker batted .657 with 13 home runs, 42 RBIs and a slugging percentage of 1.403 in leading the Rams to a WPIAL championship.

• Walker was a standout wide receiver in football, helping Pine-Richland win the 2003 WPIAL Class AAA championship. The Rams reached the state finals but lost in a snowstorm, 39-38, in an epic PIAA title game.

• While he did not play his senior year, Walker was an all-section basketball player in 2003.

• His No. 24 baseball jersey was retired by Pine-Richland in 2010.

• Inducted into the WPIAL Hall of Fame in 2012.

• Played major league baseball for Pittsburgh, New York Mets and Yankees, Milwaukee and Miami.

T.J. McConnell — Chartiers Valley Class of 2010

(Basketball)

• Defeated Lamont Wade of Clairton in the first round, 51-49%.

• 2010 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review player of the year and Terrific 10 all-star.

• 2010 Associated Press Pennsylvania Class AAA player of the year.

• 2010 first-team all-state.

• Averaged more than 34 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists per game in his senior year in 2009-10.

• As a senior, led Chartiers Valley to a 29-2 record, a WPIAL Class AAA championship with a 63-50 win over Hampton and a berth in the PIAA title game, where the Colts lost to Neumann-Goretti, 65-63.

• Scored a record 1,062 points his senior year, giving him 2,406 points in his career, fifth-best in WPIAL history.

• A four-year starter, McConnell helped Chartiers Valley reach the WPIAL Class AAA finals as a freshman in 2007, a 62-58 double overtime loss to West Allegheny.

• Inducted into the WPIAL Hall of Fame in 2016.

• Started playing college basketball at Duquesne before transferring to Arizona. He plays in the NBA with Indiana after starting his career in Philadelphia.

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