SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After two seasons as Sacramento State's director of men's basketball operations, Chris Walker was elevated to assistant coach, it was announced today by head coach Brian Katz. In addition, Nate Smith, who spent two years as the team manager, will move up to director of basketball operations.
With the promotion of both Walker and Smith, Katz's staff is now in place for the 2013-14 season. Katz will be joined on the sidelines by associate head coach Brandon Laird, assistants Ajay Riding and Walker, as well as Smith. Every member of the staff has local ties as Katz, Laird, Walker and Smith are all Sacramento natives while Riding is a native of Davis.
Walker handled numerous day-to-day duties during his two-year stint as the team's director of operations. He has spent four years with Katz, including two seasons as a player under Katz at San Joaquin Delta College (2003-05), where he was the Northern California Junior College Player of the Year and first team all-state selection in 2005 after leading the squad to a 30-2 record. After junior college, he played at Oklahoma (2005-07) where he appeared in 43 games for the Sooners, including 10 starts.
He prepped at Sacramento's Foothill High School where he was named first team all-state and the Central Valley Conference MVP as a senior in 2002-03 after helping the Mustangs to a state title. In fact, during his final two seasons of high school and his two-year stay at Delta College, his teams combined to post a 115-15 record over that four-year span.
Prior to serving as director of operations with the Hornets, he spent the 2010-11 season as an assistant coach at Rocklin's Sierra College, and also served a year as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma in 2007-08.
"In my 37 years of coaching, Chris is easily the most intelligent player I've ever coached," Katz said. "When he was a player, there was no question in my mind that he would eventually become a very good coach. He has certainly paid his dues, spending the last two years here working for little to no pay. This is a great opportunity for him, and just as importantly, a great opportunity for us to get him on board."
Smith, who was born in Sacramento, became the Hornets' team manager the day he stepped foot on campus in the fall of 2011. He worked Sacramento State's summer camps in 2012, and is on pace to graduate from the University in the fall of 2013 with a degree in kinesiology. Smith played four years of high school basketball at Sylvania Southview High School in Ohio, where he was a three-year member of the varsity squad.
"Nate is a self motivated coach that has spent the last two years here doing countless jobs as the team manager," Katz said. "He has really learned a lot since his arrival on campus, has proven to be a quick study, and will be a great addition to the staff."
Sacramento State recently completed a 2012-13 season in which the team went 14-15 overall and 8-12 in the Big Sky. The Hornets' 14 wins were the most since the 2005-06 season, and the team was at or above the .500 mark all season until the final game of the year.