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Thomas Walkup discusses pro career, love for SFA

Updated: May. 6, 2020 at 10:12 PM CDT
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Quotes were taken from a Facebook Live stream from SFA Athletics

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Even after leaving the Pineywoods former SFA standout Thomas Walkup still takes pride in the SFA basketball program.

After a brief stay in the NBA’s development system including a summer league stop with Golden State Walkup has spent the majority of his time oversees in Germany and now in Lithuania with BC Žalgiris.

“In the D-League I felt like is was self-centered which was a culture shock to me,” Walkup said in a Facebook Live session on Wednesday with athletic Director Ryan Ivey. “That was very different from the team mentality we had here at SFA.”

Žalgiris was awarded the LKL Championship this season after the season was canceled early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the club’s 10th straight title.

“It was the most unsatisfying “championship” I have ever won,” Walkup said. “We play in three different competitons. We play in one across Europe. We play in one with just teams from Lithuania and we play in a weekend tournament called “The Cup”. We won that pretty handily by 15 or 20 points so I think that helped with the league calling us the champions this year. It was after 24 games. They came out with a statement that said Žalgiris is the champions. It just lacked a little luster.”

Walkup has had to adjust to the cultural differences between Texas and Lithuania.

“You run into people that do not speak a lick of English," Walkup said. “They know what they are trying to communicate and you know what you are trying to communicate and you can’t say it in their language so you just say it in yours. We are getting no where here. For the most part everyone speaks English. They do a lot of imports and exports so they speak English.”

Walkup will forever be noticeable in Nacogdoches after leading the Lumberjacks to wins in two different NCAA tournaments. He is like Batman. But in Lithuania he is like Robin.

“The club I play for is the biggest club. The Lithuanians are the rock stars. We are the sidekicks. After the game the reporters come in and want to talk to their guys in Lithuanian so we are just in the corner. We are the sidekicks. They are the rock stars.”

Walkup said no matter where his travel takes him SFA is always going to be his favorite place.

“Being a Lumberjack means a lot,” Walkup said. “One of the coolest things it is not just basketball or the school. It is the city of Nacogdoches. It is bigger than one thing. I know people say going to a bigger school is better but that connection I had to the program, school and city all together makes it really special. It is deep in my heart and who I am as a person. I often think if I did not go to SFA would I even be playing basketball? I think I made the right decision to go to SFA. The way people treated me. The friends I made. It holds a special place in my heart.”

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