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story.lead_photo.caption University of Arkansas Little Rock head coach Darrell Walker is shown during the game against Texas State at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock on on January 2, 2020. (Democrat-Gazette file photo)

Darrell Walker has acknowledged that Little Rock is where he wants to be, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock administration did its part to make sure the coach sticks around.

UALR announced Friday that it had reached agreement on a contract extension through the 2023-24 season with Walker, who is entering his third season as the men's basketball coach.

"[UALR] Chancellor Christina Drale and our athletic director, George Lee, have been great to me," said Walker, an Arkansas Sports Hall of Famer who played in the NBA for 10 years after establishing an All-American career at the University of Arkansas. "We're building something pretty special over here. I want to be here, and I don't want to go anywhere. I want to keep building what we're building.

"We've still got some unfinished business, but it's great that they've shown the confidence in me to give me an extension."

Walker initially signed a four-year deal worth $275,000 per year on March 27, 2018. That contract was set to expire March 1, 2022, but the extension will run through the 2023-24 season.

A UALR news release didn't mention whether or not Walker, 59, had received an increase in pay.

Walker, who took Clark Atlanta to the NCAA Division II Tournament in both of his years at the school before being hired by UALR, went 10-21 in his first season with the Trojans. He guided one of the biggest one-year improvements in college basketball this past season and became only the fourth coach in UALR history to be named Sun Belt Conference coach of the year.

The Trojans finished 21-10 and won the Sun Belt regular-season title with a 15-5 mark despite being picked to finish next to last in the league's preseason poll.

Walker said he didn't know an extension was in the works.

"This was something that [Lee] came to me one day and said, 'Coach, we like your direction and the direction the program is going in,' " Walker said. "He told me that they needed to do something about my contract. It was great that he came to me about it, and that we were able to get it done."

The expectations for the upcoming season will be heightened compared to last preseason. UALR is set to return most of its players, including a trio of All-Sun Belt performers in Ruot Monyyong, Markquis Nowell and Kamani Johnson.

The Trojans also added guard Marko Andric and forward Yacine Tourmi, both of whom have international playing experience, as well as SMU transfer and Little Rock native C.J. White.

Now UALR has locked up Walker to see what he has started through.

"Coach Walker has done a fantastic job bringing a talented and exciting group of young men together," Lee said in a news release. "The future of Little Rock basketball is bright, and we are proud to have Coach Walker leading the program."

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