Going from one of the youngest NCAA Division I coaches to leading Centenary men’s basketball to the most decorated team in the NCAA Division III Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference the past four years, head coach Adam Walsh is looking to lead the Gents to new heights for his seventh season in 2016-17.
The honors achieved by the Gents under Walsh’s tutelage are staggering the past four seasons: Three Conference Players of the Year, three Newcomers of the Year, four All-Americans, five All-District selections, 16 All-Conference honors, and 16 SCAC Player of the Week recognitions.
The three consecutive Player and Newcomer (Freshman) Player of the Year honors from 2013-15 is the first time in NCAA men’s basketball history that feat has been accomplished.
Players who have played under Walsh include Jonathon Blount, the 2013 and 2014 SCAC Player of the year. Other honors for Blount include two All-American selections, two National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District honors, 2013-14 LSWA First-Team All-Louisiana distinction, 2013-14 LABC Small College Player of the Year, two First Team All-Conference selections, and five SCAC Player of the Week selections.
Blount is a current member of the Araberri Basketball Club in Spain, the 16th person to have played for Walsh either as a head coach or assistant to showcase their talents in professional basketball.
As an assistant, Walsh tutored Chase Adams, who currently plays basketball for Finke Baskets in Germany. Others that have played internationally and at some point after playing under Walsh’s guidance at Centenary include Daman Starring, Nick Stallings, and Tyrone Hamilton.
Those are just the individual honors. In 2014-15, the Centenary College men’s basketball team claimed its first conference title in 25 years. The Gents also finished as SCAC Tournament runners-up in both 2014 and 2015.
Coach Walsh captured 2013-2014 SCAC Coach of the Year honors, helping the Maroon and White finish second in the conference after being slated to finish sixth in the preseason by the conference coaches. Centenary improved from a 9-15 record the season before to an 18-10 record in 13-14. He is the first men’s basketball coach at Centenary to earn a conference Coach of the Year honor since Tommy Vardeman was named the Trans America Athletic Conference (now Atlantic Sun Conference) Coach of the Year in back-to-back seasons in 1989-90 and 1990-91.
Walsh holds a 72-86 record in his six seasons with the Gents, including a 71-57 record after a 1-29 mark his first season in 2010-2011.
The 2015-16 team finished the season 16-11 and 7-7 in Southern Conference Athletic Conference play, advancing to the Conference Tournament semifinals. The Maroon and White began the season 6-2, the best start to the season for Centenary since Robert Parish's senior year in 1975-76. The Gents were the only team in the SCAC to place a pair on the All-Conference First Team, as James Sapp and Travion Kirkendoll accomplished this feat. Sapp finished 10th in the country in rebounds per game (11.3), 15th in offensive rebounds per game (4.15), 27th in double-doubles (13) and 43rd in defensive rebounds per game (7.12).
Sapp finished the season ad the only player in the SCAC to average a double-double with 15.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, leading the conference in rebounding.
Besides being named All-Conference, Kirkendoll garnered Second Team All-District honors as well as Louisiana State Basketball Writers Association Second Team honors. He led the conference and finished 68th in the nation in points per game (19.6). Kirkendoll also led the conference and finished 67th in the nation in steals per game (2.04).
Kirkendoll proved to be an all-around threat, finishing fourth in the conference (and second to his teammate, James Sapp in SCAC-only games) in rebounding with 7.6 boards per game. He also had six double-doubles.
The 2014-15 squad finished 17-10 and 11-3 in the SCAC, claiming the conference crown despite selected to finish third in the preseason by the conference coaches. The Gents also began the year 1-2 in conference, winning 10-of-11 conference games to finish the regular season. James Sapp – an Honorable Mention All-American, a two-time All-District selection, and SCAC Player of the Year – captured All-Conference First Team honors along with Travion Kirkendoll. Kirkendoll also became the third-straight Gent to garner conference Newcomer of the Year honors.
The Maroon and White boasted five All-Conference honorees. Kendall Demouchet took second team honors, while Brandon Campbell and Caden Cheramie earned Honorable Mention status along First Teamers Sapp and Kirkendoll. The Gents also easily led the conference with seven Player of the Week accolades.
In 2013-14, Centenary boasted an 18-10 overall mark (10-4 SCAC), secured the second seed in the Conference Tournament, and finished as the runner-up in the SCAC Tournament. Individually, Blount repeated as an All-American and SCAC Player of the Year. Blount – who received a quartet of SCAC Player of the Week nods – and three other claimed All-Conference honors.
That season, the Maroon and White finished the year with the program’s first winning season since 2003-04. For his accomplishments, Walsh took home SCAC Coach of the Year Honors. The SCAC Tournament finals appearance was the first for Centenary in 23 years.
Following the difficult 2010-11 season, Walsh has led the Gents to a 38-37 overall mark the next two seasons. In 2012-2013, Centenary claimed both the Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year honors and three All-Conference selections. Blount captured All-American and All-District accolades as well as the first Player of the Week award for a Gent since Alexander Staff on February 12, 2007 in the Summit League. Brett Bell won SCAC Newcomer of the Year, joining Caden Cheramie on the Honorable Mention squad.
Prior to being named as the 21st coach in Gents’ basketball history on May 11, 2010, Walsh learned to navigate the waters at Centenary as an assistant for three years. Serving as an assistant under head coaches Greg Gary and Rob Flaska, Walsh’s duties included the development of guards, recruiting and coordinating academic support systems for the student-athletes. Walsh helped develop former Gents guard, Chase Adams to a Summit League “Defensive Player of the Year” accolade and coached shooting guards Daman Starring and David Perez to All-Louisiana “Freshman of the Year” and Third-Team honors, respectively in the 2009-10 season.
Walsh joined Centenary in 2007 directly from Paris Junior College where he assisted the Dragon program from 2006-07. He was in charge of recruiting, post-skill development, and strength and conditioning among other duties. During his stint at Paris Junior College, Walsh helped first-year head coach Ross Hodge lead the Dragons to a 26-4 record and TEAC “Coach of the Year” honors. There he also helped developed two junior college All-American forwards in Ramon Clemente (06-07) and Eric Tramiel (07-08) and recruited Raymond Sims, among others, who would lead the Dragons to 57 wins in two years at the point guard position.
Prior to his time at Paris, Walsh spent the 2005-206 season as the assistant at Odessa College under Dennis Helms. From 2003-05, Walsh took on the role as assistant coach under Ronnie Arrow at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. While with the Islanders, the team notched its first winning season at 15-11 and followed that performance up with a 20-8 record in the 2004-2005 campaign, which garnered Arrow, Independent “Coach of the Year” honors.
For the 2001-2003 seasons Walsh was an assistant coach for the Division II program, Barton College, under Ron Lievense. The 2002-03 team notched a mark of 22-6 and was ranked #24 in the nation as Lievense went on to earn CVAC “Coach of the Year” honors. That year the Bulldogs won their first NCAA tournament game in school history, which helped pave the road to their 2007 National Championship. Walsh recruited two members of that 2007 title team during his time at Barton College and helped to develop First Team All-American guard, Tim Black.
Walsh’s first experience with collegiate basketball came during his managerial days. He served as a graduate manager at Campbell University and before that was the head manager during his undergraduate studies at High Point University.
Camps are always a valuable teaching experience for coaches and Walsh is no stranger to the camp circuit. He has recently worked camps for John Lucas Enterprises and Elite 96. In the early part of his career he participated in camps conducted by the universities of Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Campbell, East Carolina, and Tennessee Tech among others.
Walsh hails from Winchester, Virginia and is the son of Nancy and Phil Walsh. He was a 2000 graduate of High Point University and graduated from James Wood High School.
Walsh recently married Nicole Rapagnani. He and his wife are active in Athletes in Action, the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.