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Grafton basketball standout will skip senior season to enroll early at University of South Dakota

Walker Demers, a 6-foot-3 junior post, will graduate this spring and join the University of South Dakota women's basketball program in the fall.

Grafton's Walker Demers shoots over Park River Fordville Lankin's Gillian Brouillard and Sydney Porter earlier this season in the Region 2 Class B Girls tournament at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
Grafton's Walker Demers shoots over Park River Fordville Lankin's Gillian Brouillard and Sydney Porter earlier this season in the Region 2 Class B Girls tournament at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAFTON, N.D. — The high school basketball career of one of the area's top talents has come to an end earlier than expected.

Grafton 6-foot-3 center Walker Demers has decided to accelerate her education in order to graduate this spring and enroll one season early at the University of South Dakota.

Demers' Spoilers team, playing in its third-consecutive state championship game, lost to Kindred in this year's title game earlier this month.

Demers, who won a state title in 2021 and was the co-Tournament MVP that season, entered this year's state tournament with averages of 16.6 points and 9.7 rebounds.

After committing to USD in late July, Coyotes coach Dawn Plitzuweit and Demers, who will turn 18 early this summer, discussed the possibility of early enrollment but originally decided against it.

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Then, before Christmas break, Plitzuweit approached the topic with Demers again.

"I really got to thinking about it," said Demers, who plans to go into the medical field. "I spent probably two whole days thinking about just that. After really thinking about it, I knew that this is something I wanted to do."

Over the last three seasons, Demers has been an all-region choice each year and named to the state all-tournament team in all three campaigns.

For her four-year Spoilers career, Demers has more than 1,000 points, 750 rebounds and 200 blocks.

The Spoilers were 110-18 in Demers' four seasons with the program.

After spending Christmas break considering the plan to enroll early at USD, Demers, who's now taking 11 classes, decided in early January to take that path and tell her teammates of the decision.

"The team was all happy for me," Demers said. "Obviously, the ones in my class were a little sad because I've just been playing with them forever. I don't get to share my senior year with them.

"My family was pretty supportive. Some in the Grafton community say 'how would you do that?' or 'I would never do that' ... but I just don't think they know the circumstances. They feel like I'm missing out on high school, which I am in parts of it, but it's not something I couldn't handle living with."

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Demers said she's both excited and nervous about her plan.

"Two and a half months from now, knowing that I'm going to be on campus in a dorm ... it's a little scary, but I know that the team I'm coming into and coaches I'm coming into ... they're just going to support me and help me through it just like they help every other freshman," Demers said.

Demers chose USD over offers from UND and North Dakota State.

The Coyotes are 27-5 this season after beating South Dakota State in the Summit League championship game. USD has won three-straight Summit tournament trophies.

The Yotes are a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will play No. 7 Ole Miss on Friday in Waco, Texas, in the first round.

Related Topics: GRAFTON
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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