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Men’s Basketball: Starks returning to Cajuns

Joshua Parrott • jparrott@theadvertiser.com • August 1, 2008

Barring any last-second surprises, Byron Starks will be returning to his alma mater.

UL athletic director David Walker confirmed with The Daily Advertiser that university president Joseph Savoie has approved for Starks to be hired as an assistant coach for the men’s basketball team.

Starks is scheduled to start his new job today, but the move is pending approval by the UL system board of supervisors at its Aug. 29 meeting.

Earlier this month a source close to the men’s basketball program told The Advertiser that Starks was expected to fill the assistant coaching job left vacant with the departure of Johnny Simmons.

"It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to coach for this program," said Starks, who played for the Cajuns from 1990-94. "For me, it’s like a good homecoming. It’s an opportunity to give back to the program."

Starks, who spent the past five seasons as the head boys basketball coach at Northside Christian in Crowley, enjoyed a stellar playing career before going into coaching.

He won two high school state championships at Grambling and finished 10th in Cajun history with 1,592 career points and in a tie for 10th with 133 career steals.

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 13.1 points in 121 career games with the Cajuns and was one of the main contributors on Sun Belt Conference championship teams in 1992 and ’94 under coach Marty Fletcher that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. He set Cajun records in Sun Belt play for 3-point shooting percentage (.467) and most field goals made (333) in ’93-94.

As a senior in ’93-94, Starks averaged a career-high 17.9 points and earned all-conference honors in the regular season and conference tournament. He shot .412 from 3-point range that season – the sixth-best mark in team history.

After spending time in camps with the Utah Jazz and the Miami Heat, Starks played professional ball overseas. Starks, who also coached the boys basketball program at Assembly Christian School from 1996-2003, was named the Louisiana Christian Schools Athletic Association Coach of the Year in 1997, ’98 and 2002.

In addition to his coaching responsibilities, Starks is the founder and executive director of Champions International, Inc., a motivational non-profit corporation that teaches leadership skills and offers mentoring programs for young people.

UL head coach Robert Lee raved about Starks’ qualifications for the job.

"I think Byron is one of the best people that you’re ever going to meet," Lee said. "I think he fits what we need for our basketball team. He’s a great role model for our guys on and off the court. He had tremendous success as a player and student at UL and is a guy who lives his life the right way.

"We’re excited about him starting on the job (today)."

The Cajuns should be among the preseason favorites in the Sun Belt Conference in 2008-09 after sharing the West Division title with Arkansas-Little Rock last season and going 15-15 despite having the nation’s third-youngest roster. All but four Cajuns are expected to return and join forces with a six-man recruiting class heavy on post players.

Starks will work closely with post players during his first year with the Cajuns.

"I think the biggest thing he’s going to do is help us with individual player development," Lee said. "He has an ability to teach the game and help our players with their skills.

"He’s a guy who can probably play as well now as he did in college."