After much speculation, Clark Atlanta University men’s head basketball coach Darrell Walker confirmed in a 2 p.m. meeting on Monday with Clark Atlanta administrators that he has accepted an offer from the University of Arkansas Little Rock to become head coach of its men’s basketball program.
The next day, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock made its official announcement on Walker’s hiring as the program’s 23rd head men’s basketball coach. An official news conference will be held at 9 a.m. Friday, March 30, on the UA Little Rock campus in the Legends Room of the Jack Stephens Center.
“Walker brings with him extensive basketball experience at both the collegiate and professional level,” a release from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock read. “His playing experience includes three years at the University of Arkansas and 10 seasons in the National Basketball Association, followed by a 20-year professional coaching career, including serving as head coach for two different NBA franchises.”
Walker, a Chicago native with ties to Arkansas from his time at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith and then as an all-conference performer at the University of Arkansas from 1980-1983, was hired by Clark Atlanta University Athletics Director J. Lin Dawson in 2016 and proceeded to turn immediately turn the program around on and off the court.
Walker, who both played and coached in the NBA, was selected by the New York Knicks with the 12th pick in the first round of the 1983 NBA draft. Over a ten-year career, he played for five teams – the Knicks, the Denver Nuggets, the Washington Bullets, the Detroit Pistons, and the Chicago Bulls.
Walker has served as head coach for two different teams—the Toronto Raptors and the Washington Wizards. He was the Raptors’ second coach, following Brendan Malone, and led the team for a season and a half.
In 2000, he replaced the fired Gar Heard in Washington for half a season (the first coaching “call up” in history, having previously been the coach of the Rockford Lightning of the CBA), but was then replaced by Leonard Hamilton the next year.
He remained in Washington as director of player personnel and later head scout before joining the Hornets as an assistant coach. In March 2012, Walker became an assistant coach with the New York Knicks, where he was on staff until 2014.
Under Walker and longtime Panthers assistant coach Alfred Jordan, the Panthers won the 2017 SIAC tournament and played in the conference tournament finals earlier this month. In the past two seasons under Walker, the Panthers have qualified for the NCAA DII tournament, a first in the program’s history.
Clark Atlanta University’s media attention rose to an all-time high the past two seasons, including feature stories in this publication, ESPN’s The Undefeated and on local news outlets. All can properly be attributed to the winning brought forth by the changes Walker made within the program.
The Panthers were 24-6 this season, losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Mar. 10 to Claflin University 72-61, at Forbes Arena on the campus of Morehouse College.