At the age of 57, Darrell Walker will have his first head coaching job in Division I college basketball.
The former NBA player and current head coach of the Clark Atlanta University Panthers is taking the same job with Arkansas-Little Rock.
ESPN's Jeff Borzello was the first to report the news, tweeting Sunday night that Little Rock was expected to hire Walker. On Tuesday, Arkansas-Little Rock made the hire official. The school said in a release that Walker will be its 23rd head basketball coach in program history and he will introduced at a press conference on Friday.
In his two seasons at Clark Atlanta, Walker's Panthers won 45 games and twice appeared in the NCAA Division II tournament. While at the Atlanta HBCU, Walker would bring in former NBA players, like Rasheed Wallace and Alex English, to work with the Panthers.
"Two years ago, we hired Coach Darrell Walker with the expectation that he would build a championship program worth of regional and national recognition, serve as a life coach to student-athletes beyond graduation, and create an excitement within the Atlanta community, as well as attracting national business networks," Clark Atlanta Athletic Director J Lin Dawson said in a statement. "He exceeded all expectations and became a true partner within the campus community."
Walker turned things around quickly at Clark Atlanta. Before he arrived, the Panthers hadn’t had a winning record since 2014.
He'll be expected to do the same at Arkansas-Little Rock. The Trojans won the Sun Belt and an NCAA tournament game, over Purdue in 2016, but finished this season with just a 7-25 record. Little Rock was ranked 296th out of the 351 Division I teams in terms of overall efficiency, according to KenPom.
Heading to Little Rock will be a little bit of a homecoming for Walker, who played his college basketball at two schools in the state – Division II Arkansas-Fort Smith and the University of Arkansas of the SEC. A native of Chicago, Walker is 18th all-time on Arkansas’ career scoring list.
Walker was the 12th overall pick by the New York Knicks in the 1983 NBA Draft and played 10 seasons. He was an assistant coach in the NBA for the Toronto Raptors, New Orleans Hornets, Detroit Pistons and Knicks. Walker was the head coach of the Raptors for two seasons, and was the interim head coach for the Washington Wizards for 38 games in 2000.
Clark Atlanta said it will conduct a national search to find its next coach.
By being the coach at Little Rock, he’ll make at least one trip to Atlanta per year, as the Trojans play in the same conference as Georgia State.
“It was tough talking to my players yesterday about leaving, what we had built here, the relationships, how much I was proud of them and what we'd accomplished over the last two years, the notoriety we brought to the school, uplifted the school.” Walker said in a statement through CAU. “It was tough. I broke down in front of my guys because they mean a lot to me. And this school, Clark Atlanta University, is going to mean a lot to me."