CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The Illinois basketball team is gaining a new assistant coach while another guy is taking a different role. The team announced late Tuesday afternoon that Stephen Gentry will replace Jamall Walker as one of the three Illini assistant coaches this season.
Gentry and Illinois head coach Brad Underwood have a long history together, working on the same staff at both Stephen F. Austin and Oklahoma State. Gentry was also on the Illinois staff for a short time in Underwood’s first season as well before departing for Gonzaga, where he’s been working ever since as the Director of Basketball Operations.
“I’ve said it often that Stephen has a great basketball mind, and he was a crucial piece to what we were able to accomplish at Stephen F. Austin and Oklahoma State,” Underwood said in a statement. “I am excited to have him return to our bench coming off two incredibly successful years at Gonzaga with Coach Few. Stephen is gifted with Xs and Os and analytics and excels with player development. Given his familiarity with our system and our program, he will provide a seamless transition for our players.”
Walker is transitioning to a new role as assistant to the head coach/defensive coordinator, a new position the program has created for the seventh year Illini assistant.
“I appreciate Coach Underwood providing this new role as I seek to gain experience in our industry that goes far beyond what happens on the court,” Walker said in a statement. “I have invested so much in Fighting Illini Basketball over these last seven years and am motivated to continue pushing forward with this staff and help our program realize the success that everyone is working so hard to achieve.”
“Jamall is a talented young coach who, without question, has a future as a college head coach,” Underwood added in a release. “I saw that first-hand with the outstanding job he did leading the Illini during the 2017 NIT. He will work alongside me when it comes to the many responsibilities, opportunities, and issues that come across a head coach’s desk every single day. This partnership will allow him to gain more experience in running a program, with the ultimate goal that the professional development opportunity allows him to realize his dream of becoming a division one head coach.”