April 14, 2008
San Francisco - The University of San Francisco has named Rex Walters head coach of the men's basketball program. The former Kansas star and NBA veteran served as head coach at Florida Atlantic University since 2006 and brings an outstanding resume of proven experience to the Hilltop.
"Coach Walters possesses the qualities and qualifications we were looking for to guide this program in a successful direction," said USF Athletic Director Debra Gore-Mann. "His professional reputation, knowledge and experience in the game of basketball, and his focus on student-athletes make him the perfect fit to lead the Dons."
Walters was the unanimous choice of each member of the search committee formed in March. The USF search committee was led by Chuck Smith, vice chair of the USF Board of Trustees and former president and CEO of AT&T West. The other committee members include Jim Brovelli, USF Hall of Fame player and former coach of USF men's basketball, Dr. Walt Gmelch, dean of the USF School of Education and Mario Prietto, S.J., Rector of the USF Jesuit Community and a member of the USF Board of Trustees. DHR International, one of the nation's leading executive search firms, worked in conjunction with the search committee and Gore-Mann throughout the hiring process.
USF will host a press conference to officially announce and introduce Coach Walters today. The press conference will start at 4:00 PM in the lobby of War Memorial Gymnasium on the USF campus.
"Today is an extremely exciting day for me and my family," Walters said. "I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to return to the Bay Area and coach at a world class university in an outstanding conference. The University of San Francisco has a tremendous legacy of achievement on and off the court and I look forward to working with the student-athletes and administration. I would like to thank the committee and USF for this once in a lifetime opportunity."
"We have done our very best and hired a high-caliber individual who will lead us to prominence," said committee chair Chuck Smith. "Coach Walters is the right guy with the right qualifications and we're all looking forward to an exciting future."
Coach Walters comes to USF from Florida Atlantic University. In his first season at the helm, Walters guided Florida Atlantic to its second consecutive winning season. It was the first time the program posted back-to-back winning campaigns since the team had three straight years of winning basketball from 1989-90 to 1991-92.
In 2006-07, the Owls won 10 Sun Belt Conference games, the third-most for a first-year Sun Belt member. The team also set a program scoring record, averaging 74.9 points per game. Two of Walters' student-athletes were named Second Team All-Sun Belt, the first student-athletes honored with a major postseason distinction under his direction. The Owls were 15-18 and 8-10 in Sun Belt Conference play in 2007-08.
Prior to Florida Atlantic, Walters' first collegiate coaching job came at Valparaiso, a two-year stint as an assistant under Homer Drew. The 2003-04 Hornets were 18-13 overall and advanced to the NCAA Tournament after capturing the Mid-Continent Conference with a record of 11-5.
His coaching career began in 2002-03 in Overland Park, KS, where he served as an assistant coach for the Blue Valley Northwest High School team that reached the Kansas Class 6A State Tournament.
Walters' pedigree for coaching began as a player, receiving tutelage from some of the game's legendary coaches. Roy Williams at the University of Kansas and the NBA's Chuck Daly, Larry Brown and Pat Riley all mentored Walters during his years as a player.
He first made his name known in college, starring for two seasons at Kansas. In 68 starts under Williams, he averaged 15.6 points per game, leading the Jayhawks in scoring during both his junior and senior campaigns.
KU combined to go 56-12 overall in 1991-92 and 1992-93, winning back-to-back Big Eight titles, capped by a trip to the 1993 Final Four. Walters was named to the All-Big Eight team both seasons and was Big Eight Male Athlete of the Year as a senior in 1993.
As a junior, Walters averaged 16.0 points per game as the Jayhawks went 27-5. In his senior season, KU had a record of 29-7, with Walters scoring at a clip of 15.3 points per game.
Walters was an outstanding scorer from all areas of the court at Kansas, shooting nearly 51% from the field, 42% from three-point range and 85% at the free throw line. His college career originally began at Northwestern University, where he earned honorable mention from the Big 10 in 1989-90 after leading the team in scoring (17.6 ppg), three-point shooting (47.3%), free throw shooting (79.4%) and assists (125) as a sophomore.
It was during his senior season at Kansas that Walters made his first connection with Matt Doherty, who joined the team as an assistant coach. The two reunited again for Doherty's single season at FAU, opening the door for Walters' move to the top.
After graduating from Kansas in 1993 with a B.S. in education, Walters was selected by New Jersey as the 16th overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft. He went on to play seven seasons in total with the Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat, averaging 4.6 points and 1.7 assists per game in 13.7 minutes.
Walters averaged a career-best 6.8 points per game for Philadelphia in 1996-97, and made 67 career starts in 335 games. His career assist-to-turnover ratio was nearly two-to-one. He was New Jersey's top three-point shooter in 1994-95 (36.2%) and Philadelphia's top long-range marksman in 1996-97 (38.5%). A fierce competitor, Walters averaged 12.8 points and 7.3 assists per game in eight starts for the 76ers to end the 1995-96 season.
Walters' professional career spanned nine seasons in total, ending in 2002 after playing internationally for two years and winning an American Basketball Association title with the Kansas City Knights.
Walters and his wife, Deanna, have four children: Addison (11), Drew (9), Riley (6) and Gunner (4), and are expecting their fifth child.