Former Kentucky Star Tony Delk Lands D-I Coaching Job
Delk spoke with Aggies head coach Marvin Menzies on Monday for the first time regarding a vacant assistant coaching position. On Saturday, NMSU announced that the former University of Kentucky guard and 10-year NBA veteran will join Menzies' staff for the 2011-12 season.
"I was just enjoying the summer and watching basketball," Delk said. "When this job became available, I talked to a lot of people and mentors and everyone that I talked to said it was the best opportunity at this stage of my career."
Delk had resigned his position as assistant to the Director of Basketball Operations at Kentucky in order to pursue the next step in his career. He said he was watching a summer tournament in Memphis when former Kentucky teammate and former Louisville assistant Walter McCarty called him and told him about a position with NMSU. Fifteen minutes later, he was on the phone with Menzies. He interviewed on the NMSU campus on Wednesday.
"It happened really, really fast," Delk said. "I knew that I was excited about the job and it was a good match once we actually met in person."
Delk and Menzies had met in the past, but the stronger connection came through Rick Pitino - whom Menzies coached under at Louisville for two seasons and whom Delk played for at Kentucky, winning the 1996 national championship as a senior.
In 2009, he joined John Calipari's staff at Kentucky, but the presence of an entrenched coaching staff at UK would have made it difficult to become a head man at this stage of his coaching career.
"The knowledge that (Pitino) has and that success, he just has so much experience and he knows about being a head coach and has helped do that for many, many coaches," Delk said. "Calipari gave me an opportunity to come back to Kentucky. I learned how to manage people with a winning attitude and being humble around the game."
As a professional, Delk averaged 9.1 points per game for his NBA career with eight teams. He was the No. 16 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft and once scored 53 points in a game for the Phoenix Suns.
The presence of an NBA veteran likely makes up for whatever lack of coaching experience Delk has.
"The thing about me is that I'm humble and excited about helping them out," Delk said. "You have to share the knowledge now that I'm done playing. As I got older, I wasn't as fast and jumping as high anymore but I became a better student of the game and that's what I want to do with players."
Delk was offered two assistant jobs last year including at the Citadel and he interviewed at North Carolina-Wilmington. He was offered an assistant position this summer with Division II Clark Atlanta.
"Last year, I had two jobs offered but didn't feel that I was ready yet," Delk said. "I was happy to come back and work with Calipari for another year and those assistants and it has helped me tremendously."
Menzies moved Paul Weir into the title of Associate head coach as Weir enters his fifth season with the Aggies.
"This move was well earned by Paul," Menzies said. "He has done a fantastic job here in the past four years. He will have a very successful head coaching career someday."
Tom Lewis was promoted to full-time assistant after spending last year as the coordinator of player development.
"Tom Lewis has been with the program for a year and when I originally hired him my thought process was to move him up when the opportunity presented itself," Menzies said. "Based on his experience and resume, he will be an instant benefit in the areas of X and O's and player development."