|College:||Sam Houston State, 1991|
|Position:||Head Men's Basketball Coach|
Sam Walker continues to make his mark on the A&M-Commerce basketball program, entering his 13th season as the Lions’ head coach. The 2012-13 season also marks Walker’s 21st season as a member of the A&M-Commerce staff, one that has proven to be a memorable one for the Lions' head man.
Facing reigning LSC champion Midwestern State on January 9, 2013, A&M-Commerce rallied from a double-digit first half deficit, toppling the Mustangs 74-66 at the Field House and giving Walker his 202nd career victory. That win moved Walker past Jim Gudger (1969-83) as the all-time winningest coach in A&M-Commerce history, encompassing not just the men's basketball program but every Lion athletic team.
On December 15, 2012, A&M-Commerce routed Dallas Baptist 92-62 to give Walker his 200th career victory. The following week, the Lions went on the road to topple Southern Arkansas 96-88, upping Walker's career record to 201-151, tying him with Gudger. He also ranks fifth all-time in winning percentage among coaches with at least 50 career victories, winning 56.7 percent of his games.
Walker has also made his mark in the Lone Star Conference, posting an 82-70 record in conference games. The Lions captured the 2005 Lone Star Conference title with an overall record of 28-5 and 10-2 in conference play, and have qualified for the LSC Championship 10 times under Walker, including each of the past eight seasons.
Under Walker’s tutelage, 32 players have been recognized as All-Lone Star Conference selections, including nine first team honorees. He has coached a Lone Star Conference Player of the Year (Jemart Miller in 2004-05), four LSC Newcomers of the Year, two LSC Freshmen of the Year and a Daktronics Third Team All-American (Scooby Johnson in 2007-08).
Walker has also ensured the Lions have excelled in the classroom as well. During the 2011-12 season, the Lions notched an impressive feat as Desmond King (first team) and Andrew Davis (third team) were both named Capital One Academic All-Americans, making A&M-Commerce the only program in the country at the Division I, II or III level to have a pair of Academic All-Americans. In addition, Davis was named the Lone Star Conference Men's Basketball Academic Player of the Year.
The Lions also remain active in the Commerce community, assisting at various schools across the area. During winter break, Walker routinely takes his players to read and talk to the students of Commerce Elementary School and Commerce Middle School. The Lions are also active participants in activities at the Commerce Children’s Learning Center and the annual Commerce Lions Club Carnival.
In 2011-12, A&M-Commerce faced a unique situation where it needed to win its final three games to qualify for the Lone Star Conference tournament, two of which were on the road. After taking an overtime decision at Eastern New Mexico and a come-from-behind victory at Abilene Christian, the Lions held off Angelo State for an 83-78 victory on Senior Night, qualifying for the tournament for the eighth-straight season - the longest streak in the conference. A&M-Commerce held a seven-point lead on fifth-ranked Midwestern State midway through the second half of the LSC quarterfinals before falling to the eventual Elite Eight participant.
After serving as an assistant coach for eight years under Paul Peak, including one season as the associate head coach, Walker officially took over the reigns of the A&M-Commerce basketball program on May 5, 2000. He immediately started making his mark on the program, leading the Lions to a 17-10 overall record and a berth in the LSC tournament in his first season, falling to Midwestern State 97-95 in double overtime. Tyrone Palmer was the first of Walker’s players to earn first team All-LSC honors, repeating as a first team selection the following seasons.
Following a 10-19 season in 2001-02, Walker and the Lions returned to the conference tournament in 2002-03 on the heels of a 16-12 season and a third-place finish in the south division. Micah Reed became the second player to earn first team All-LSC honors under Walker.
A&M-Commerce just missed the LSC tournament in 2003-04, setting up what would prove to be a memorable 2004-05 campaign. The Lions posted a 28-5 mark on the year, the most wins and highest winning percentage since the 1954-55 NAIA national championship team (29-5).
The Lions, who won the South Division with a 10-2 overall record, would go on to capture their 17th Lone Star Conference championship, defeating West Texas A&M 77-62 in the title game of the LSC tournament. A&M-Commerce then qualified for its first NCAA Division II tournament since 1998, defeating Southwestern Oklahoma and Central Oklahoma before falling to Tarleton State 75-70 in the regional finals.
The Lions’ success on the court translated into a handful of accolades. Jemart Miller was named the Lone Star Conference’s Player and Newcomer of the Year while also being named a first team All-LSC selection. Three other Lions picked up either second team or honorable mention All-LSC honors as well.
But Walker was also given his just due, being named the Lone Star Conference, NCAA South Central Regional and Texas Small College Coach of the Year. He was also tabbed the NCAA Division II Coach of the Month for January, 2005.
Walker’s 2005-06 team followed up the previous year’s success with a 16-12 record, tying for third in the LSC North Division. The Lions went 14-14 in 2006-07, using a late season run to finish second in the North. Lamar Searight became the fourth of Walker’s Lions to be named a first team all-conference selection.
A&M-Commerce repeated as the runners-up in the North Division in 2007-08, posting a 14-16 overall record. The Lions used another late season run to advance all the way to the title game of the Lone Star Conference, losing a 72-20 heartbreaker to Central Oklahoma. That year, Scooby Johnson was selected as a Daktronics third team All-American in addition to being named the LSC’s Newcomer of the Year, first team All-Conference and a member of the LSC All-Tournament team.
2008-09 saw A&M-Commerce finish second in the North Division yet again as the Lions posted a 17-11 overall mark and were 8-4 in conference play. Walker’s team qualified for the LSC tournament once again as A&M-Commerce saw a pair of its players pick up league honors. Brad Hambrick was named the LSC Freshman of the Year while DeUndrae Spraggins was tabbed the conference’s Newcomer of the Year and was also a first team All-LSC selection.
Walker’s team finished 19-9 in 2009-10 and 8-4 in the North Division, finishing second for the fourth consecutive year and earned another LSC tournament bid, dropping an 83-76 overtime decision to Tarleton State. The Lions had the conference’s Freshman of the Year for the second consecutive year in Preston Whitley while Ronnie Morgan earned first team All-LSC honors.
In 2010-11, the streak continued yet again as Walker’s Lions finished 18-9 overall and 8-4 in the North Division, capturing runner-up honors for the fifth-straight time. A&M-Commerce met up with Midwestern State in the first round of the LSC tournament and gave the eventual champions all they could handle before dropping a hard-fought decision. Desmond King became the fourth player under Walker to be named the LSC’s Newcomer of the Year and was also a first team all-conference selection.
Walker established his niche as one of the top coaches and recruiters during his year with former Lion head coach Paul Peak. Joining Peak in his second season, Walker was a key reason for the Lions’ success throughout the 1990s. During that time, A&M-Commerce won the 1996 Lone Star Conference Championship, the 1998 South Division Championship and made three consecutive NCAA Division II tournament appearances in 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1997-98. During the 1997 tournament, the Lions were the NCAA South Central Regional Champions, advancing to the Elite Eight.
As an assistant coach, Walker began to establish his reputation as one of the top recruiters in the state of Texas and in the southwest, a reputation that continues to this day. He has developed an extensive network of local talent, both on the high school and junior college levels.
Before coming to A&M-Commerce, Walker was an assistant coach at Brookhaven Community College in 1991-92. He began his career in coaching while serving as a student assistant at both Sam Houston State (1989-91) and Navarro Junior College (1987-98).
Walker is a 1991 graduate of Sam Houston State University, earning his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and health. He then attained his master’s degree in health and physical education from Texas A&M University-Commerce.
Walker is married to the former Alison Minah and the couple resides in Commerce with their four children; Teddy (13), Charlie (9), Sally (5) and Jack (2).
Walker's Career Coaching Record
|2004-05||A&M-Commerce||28-5||.848||10-2||.833||NCAA Regional Finals|