January 31, 2024
Leger-Walker’s Cougar career ends with ACL injury
Senior guard Charlisse Leger-Walker, the three-time All-Pac-12 performer and 2023 Honorable Mention All-American, will miss the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament
One of the biggest wins in this history of the Washington State program has been dampened by some of its most difficult news.
Senior guard Charlisse Leger-Walker, the three-time All-Pac-12 performer and 2023 Honorable Mention All-American, will miss the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, suffered in the third quarter of the Cougars’ upset win over No. 2 UCLA, the highest-ranked victory in program history. Cougars coach Kamie Ethridge indicated that at this moment, Leger-Walker’s career at Washington State appears to be is over.
“I am saddened to confirm the knee injury to Charlisse Leger Walker is season ending,” said Head Coach Kamie Ethridge. “Charlisse has given her heart and soul to Washington State and this program. We are heartbroken that she will not finish her career at WSU on the court. However, Charlisse will continue to impact our program to the best of her ability. There is zero doubt that Charlisse will come back better than ever. Charlisse will forever be remembered and honored as the greatest and winningest impact player in WSU women’s basketball history.”
The Next, a 24/7/365 women’s basketball newsroom
The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff and dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.
The news about Leger-Walker became official on Wednesday morning, but it was clear following Sunday’s victory that it was likely not going to be good after Leger-Walker left the floor with a non-contact injury. Leger-Walker had 17 points in the game before getting hurt.
Leger-Walker has been one of the Pac-12’s premier scorers since she arrived in Pullman from New Zealand to play alongside her older sister, Krystal. She led the conference in scoring as a freshman at 18.8 points a game in the 2020-21 season. She has a career average of 16.6 points and 3.7 assists per game with 199 career 3-pointers.
Leger-Walker’s presence in the backcourt has helped lift Washington State to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, a program record. The Cougars won their first-ever Pac-12 Conference tournament title last March.
The Cougars are fighting for a fourth NCAA berth with a 15-6 record, a 4-4 record in the Pac-12 and an NCAA Net ranking of 21. Losing Leger-Walker, their floor leader and go-to offensive option, is a huge blow.
It is also a huge blow to Leger-Walker’s hopes to make the New Zealand Olympic team for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Leger-Walker was already scheduled to leave Saturday to miss three WSU games in the next few weeks while playing with New Zealand in Olympic qualfiers.
Leger-Walker has one year of eligibility remaining. It remains to be seen whether she will come back.
“I’m going to leave that to Charlisse,” Ethridge said. “Everyone has to make decisions on their own…She’s got to make some big decisions, and I know she’ll go through all things in her mind and figure those things out, but I don’t think that’s been done yet. She has a lot to think about.”
The Next and The Equalizer are teaming up
The Next is partnering with The Equalizer to bring more women’s sports stories to your inbox. Subscribe to The Next now and receive 50% off your subscription to The Equalizer for 24/7 coverage of women’s soccer.
Now, the Cougars move forward. Leger-Walker’s injury adds to a list that includes Johanna Teder, announced out before the season began, and Astera Tuhina, who has not played since December 20, but may play as soon as this weekend.
“We walked into the locker room and celebrated (after the UCLA win), but how could you with that kid sitting there?” Ethridge said Monday on her weekly coaches show. “Any of us who know Charlisse knows she doesn’t go down on the floor, she doesn’t fall, she doesn’t not get up. But we will have a plan in place.”
Ethridge acknowledeged that there’s no replacing one of the best players in program history.
“We can’t replace the kind of player that Charlisse is, but everybody is going to have to do a little bit more,” Ethridge said. “There’s going to be a few more shots out there for people, more opportunities for people. The biggest message that we have to give our team is ‘Don’t be a victim. We are not victims of anything.’ This is just an opportunity to step up and into a bigger role than they’ve ever had in our program. Do that for Charlisse, do that for your program and do that for yourself.”
Written by Michelle Smith
Michelle Smith has covered women's basketball nationally for nearly three decades. Smith has worked for ESPN.com, The Athletic, the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as Pac-12.com and WNBA.com. She was named to the Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame in 2015, is the 2017 recipient of the Jake Wade Media Award from the Collegiate Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA) and was named the Mel Greenberg Media Award winner by the WBCA in 2019.