Ex-Jayhawk Walters wanted to be coach from beginning

By Gary Bedore, Assistant Sports Editor , Thursday, September 1, 2005

Rex Walters has had his eye on a coaching career a long time.

"When I first got to KU," said Walters, who arrived via transfer from Northwestern in 1990, "coach (Roy) Williams asked me what I wanted to do with my life.  I said, ‘Coach.' He looked at me like I was crazy. He said it was a difficult way to make a living, but at the same time knew I was serious."

A two-time all-Big Eight pick who went on to play seven years in the NBA and two in Spain, Walters, 35, is first-year associate head coach at Florida Atlantic. He accepted former KU assistant Matt Doherty's offer to join the Owls' staff after working two seasons as an assistant at Valparaiso and one as a volunteer coach at Blue Valley Northwest High.

He was asked if he'd like to coach players like himself, an extremely intense competitor who led KU to two Big Eight titles and one Final Four. "I don't know about that," Walters said with a laugh. "To win, you have to do what coach Doherty preaches, play hard, smart and together. I knew about hard and thought I knew about smart, but I definitely didn't know about together until I arrived at KU. "A lot of KU players played just as hard as me, guys like (Kirk) Hinrich and (Jerod) Haase, a lot of guys."

Walters, who with wife Deanna, have four children, Addison (8), Drew (6), Riley (3), and Gunner (1), figures to be on track to be a head coach before long. "I'm happy to be here right now. I love it," Walters said. "It's because I get to work for coach Doherty, who has a national championship ring on his finger and helped 20 players get to the NBA. I am having fun and going to learn so much."