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Darrell Walker has plenty of stories to tell.

A former University of Arkansas standout guard in the early 1980s under legendary coach Eddie Sutton and a 10-year NBA professional from 1983-93, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's men's basketball coach spoke Monday to the Downtown Tip Off Club at the Wyndham Riverfront hotel in North Little Rock. In doing so, he delivered the juicy stories fans, donors and supporters of UALR wanted to hear.

Walker began by shining light on how things are going during his first season as the Trojans' head coach.

The Trojans (7-14, 2-6 Sun Belt Conference) have sent out seven different starting lineup combinations this season. Walker has started four freshmen in six different games.

The freshman-heavy lineup helped Walker anchor his talking next point: How he intends to grow UALR's program. He also wants fans to know it is not an overnight process.

"I'm trying to build something we can sustain," said Walker, who added college programs that field as many as four starting freshmen and aren't rebuilding like UALR are top-tier, one-and-done schools like Kentucky and Duke. "In the Sun Belt Conference, I want to be the team everybody's chasing every year."

Walker, a longtime Little Rock resident, returned to central Arkansas in March when the UALR announced his hiring.

With such a storied basketball past that began in 1980 at Westark Community College -- which is now known as the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith -- and a native of the South Side of Chicago, Walker has returned to his new home to coach the Trojans.

"It's always been my dream job," Walker said Monday. "I'm happy to be home. But leaving there and coming to Fort Smith, Arkansas, I was lost."

Walker fielded questions about the differences in playing and coaching in the NBA compared with the NCAA. He was asked what lessons he's taken and reapplied to UALR from NBA coaches Hubie Brown, Wes Unseld, Chuck Daly and Phil Jackson.

On multiple occasions, Walker's audience inquired about present-day officiating, instant replay and -- as one club member requested -- about a time Walker, then a Knick, and former Celtic Danny Ainge got into a brawl in Game 5 of the 1984 Eastern Conference finals.

Walker, a lighthearted speaker who doesn't shy from honesty, also began to tell a story about the night he and the 1993 Chicago Bulls won the NBA championship in his final NBA season.

"That was a heck of a night, too, but I'm not going to talk about that," he said.

UALR and Arkansas State University will meet for a doubleheader Saturday at the Jack Stephens Center, beginning with the women's game at 3 p.m. and the men at 5:30 p.m.

Photo by Thomas Metthe
UALR coach Darrell Walker reacts after a Trojans’ turnover Saturday night in a home loss to Appalachian State.

Sports on 01/29/2019

Print Headline: UALR's Darrell Walker regales club with hoops stories

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