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Meet Chris Walker, Cal’s New Assistant Basketball Coach

What does Walker bring to the table?    

Chris Walker and Wyking Jones go way back. It started while Walker was an assistant coach at Loyola Marymount while Jones played there and continued as the two consistently found themselves connected in one way or another. Whether it was at LMU, Pepperdine, or New Mexico, their careers seemed to intersect constantly. While we know much about Wyking Jones and his background, let's look at Coach Walker and see what he adds to Cal's new coaching staff.

Walker began his coaching career at LMU after playing for Villanova. While at LMU, Jones described Walker’s personality as “infectious…but when it came down to getting after it in practice, he knew how to turn that switch on, and get serious about getting better, and working on our craft.” From LMU, Walker went to Pepperdine where he played an integral role in the team earning the moniker “Pressure-dine” and successfully made it to the NCAA tournament twice; one trip of which the Waves upset the Indiana, the 6th seed, in the first round. After his stint at Pepperdine, Walker coached at New Mexico, Villanova, Texas Tech, and UMass before ultimately ending up as a broadcaster for CBS and a brand ambassador for Under Armour.

In his interview with BearTerritory, Walker expressed, “Our No. 1 thing is that we want kids nationally to see us as a Duke -- a place that has great academics, and has great basketball.” Despite this being the goal, Walker acknowledges that institutions such as Berkeley, with its rigorous academics, face the question, "do you want to be a school that's an academic school that has basketball school, or do you want to be a basketball school that has academics?” And where does he see Cal fitting in within this dichotomy? “To be in the middle of that, where kids embrace it, and say, ‘I want to be known as a nerd that’s really good at sports.”

Joining a new coaching staff with an understanding of the additional difficulties required while recruiting and playing at Cal, Walker seems poised to be an essential tool in Coach Jones's arsenal. Having already landed Matt Bradley and Jacobi Gordon for the recruiting class of 2018, Cal is just one of four schools to have two top-100 pledges; so it seems like he is off to a good start. He knows this, and suggests, “What we know, we're connected. We know how to get players. You have Coach O'Toole there, as well. You've got Theo. We have an amazing staff, but what Wyking does well is, he's connected, and we know how to get players. If you know how to get players, you're going to win.”

Okay, so clearly Walker looks as though he will more than carry his own with recruiting, but what about his on-court philosophies and approach to the game? Walker’s addition builds on Jones’s goal of creating a “team” atmosphere with both the players and the coaching staff while also supporting his desire for a high pace of play. He wants to implement what both he and Jones learned from Rick Pitino of Louisville, that is, producing, “up-tempo, press, create easy baskets, get athletes, stay-in-your-face type[s] of guy[s]. That's the type of style that I believe in, as well."

After doing research on Walker, it seems clear to me that he fits in perfectly with Jones's style and goal. Walker, O'Toole, and Robertson know the bureaucracy that comes with coaching at a school like Cal, and they are not only willing to assist Jones in creating a successful program on the court, but they seem committed to changing the culture of the program to one that is more aligned with the values of Cal as a whole.

What it all comes down for Walker is supporting Jones; His approach? “[It] boils down to four words: Make Wyking Jones successful.”

What do you think Cal Fans?