Ashley Walker will be a NCAA Division I head coach next season as she was hired by Mississippi Valley State University May 5 and formally introduced on Wednesday.
“I’m extremely excited,” Walker said. “I’m thankful to the Mississippi Valley State University president Dr. William Bynum and athletic director Dianthia Ford-Kee for this opportunity. I’m also thankful for the opportunity I had at Wiley College. I would also like to thank President Dr. Haywood L. Strickland and Athletic Director Dr. Joseph Morale for my time here.”
In her two seasons at her first head coach job at Wiley College, Walker guided the Lady Wildcats to a 39-17 record – including 22-7 last season. Her teams qualified for the Red River Athletic Conference Tournament in both seasons – reaching the semifinals last season. Last season the Lady Wildcats led the NAIA in total rebounds per game at 47.8. The team ranked in the top 10 in steals per game, field goal percent defense, 3-point field goal percent defense and total rebound margin.
Walker coached five All-Conference players. Alexis Bernstine was a First Team All-Conference selection in 2015-16 and a second team selection last season. Anika Nottingham was a second team selection in two consecutive seasons. Lisa Nealey, who returned this season from an ACL injury, earned a second team All-Conference selection last season. In Walker’s first season, Ty Colquitt won RRAC Freshman of the Year. Along with being head coach, Walker served as the Champion of Character liaison. After two seasons, Walker feels that working at a school Wiley College’s size has helped prepare her for her job at Mississippi Valley State.
“You have to roll up your sleeves and work for what you want in your program,” Walker said. “Being here for two years and having to work hard is the best for me moving forward. I’m used to hard work.”
Wiley College Athletic Director Dr. Joseph Morale expressed joy in Walker’s selection.
“We certainly want to thank her for her outstanding contributions to our program,” he said. “I am confident she will be successful at Mississippi Valley State.”
Walker is the third Wiley College women’s basketball coach to land a NCAA Division I head coaching position. Johnetta Hayes-Perry – who coached at Wiley College from 2006-2008 – finished her fourth season as Texas Southern’s head coach. Courtney Garrett Pruitt – who led the Lady Wildcats from 2011-2015 and guided them to the NAIA Fab Four in 2013-14 – finished her second season at Alcorn State University. Janet Eaton – who coached from 2008-2010 and was the athletic director until 2014 – wrapped her third season as an assistant coach at Indiana State University.
Prior to Wiley College, Walker was an assistant coach at NCAA Division I school South Carolina State University. She coached two-time All-MEAC performer Kourtney Williams, who finished as the program’s seventh all-time leading scorer.
Prior to SC State, Walker spent seven seasons (2005-2012) as an assistant coach at Angelina College in Lufkin, Texas. During her time there, the team went 135-81. At Angelina, the team set a school-record with 26 wins in the 2009-10 season. She helped coach three National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-Americans, two Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-Americans and two freshmen of the year. Additionally, the 2006-07 team earned Academic All-American honors. Several of Walker’s Lady Roadrunner players went on to play Division I basketball.
Walker, a Bryan, Texas, native, played two years at Angelina College after leaving Bryan High School as a highly sought-after recruit. In the 1999-2000 season, she was part of the team that broke the program record for wins in a season with a 24-7 mark. Her success at the junior college level led to a scholarship at Texas Wesleyan University, where she played for another two seasons before receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in exercise of sports studies in 2005.
Morale said he is already looking through resumes of potential head coach candidates.
“We have 15 applications so far,” Morale said. “I’m confident we will find the right fit for our program.”