After the resignation of former Oklahoma Christian University men’s basketball head coach Cory Cole, the athletic department named Kendre Talley as the interim head coach for the 2019-20 basketball season.
Talley played at Oklahoma Christian from 2010-14. During his senior season, he earned All-Heartland Conference first-team honors after being the first player in conference history to lead in three major categories—scoring (17.5 points per game), assists (5.9 per game) and steals (2 per game). He received second-team All-America honors from the National Christian College Athletic Association.
After college, Talley played professional basketball in Germany for one year before coming back to Oklahoma to pursue coaching. Talley returned to Oklahoma Christian as a graduate assistant under Coach Dan Hays for the 2015-16 season.
In 2016-17, he served as an assistant coach at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha, OK, where he helped lead the Drovers to a conference title and spot in the NAIA Division I tournament. Talley returned to Oklahoma Christian as a full-time assistant coach in 2017, where he stayed for three years.
Oklahoma Christian Athletic Director David Lynn named Talley interim head coach Friday, April 5.
Talley shared his thoughts and goals for this upcoming season as he serves in a head coach role for the first time in his career.
Q: How will your experience as a player and assistant coach at Oklahoma Christian help you in your position as interim head coach?
“I have been an assistant coach for four years. Those years were great for me and will help me establish myself, because I was able to work for great head coaches. I will take a little bit of what I learned from each of them to help me.”
Q: What are your main goals as interim head coach in the first year?
“My main goal is to create an environment the players look forward to being in every day. I also want to help get the program back to where it was when I was a player.”
Q: How will recruiting be affected for next year, with the resignation of Coach Cole?
“Previously, recruiting was my main priority and still will be. I will focus on guys that are right for this program, but also good guys that can impact this university.”
Q: What will your main focus be in terms of attitude with the team? What words will you emphasize for the players to focus on?
“Integrity, hard work and resilience. This will not be an easy year going into the toughest conference in the nation, but those are three things if we focus on we can be good, and the guys have to have fun.”
Q: With key players and leaders graduating this year, who are you looking to lead the team next season?
“It is an open opportunity. Instead of forcing my expectations on a player, I would rather one of the returners demand and embrace the role.”
Q: What are you nervous about in your first position in the role of head coach?
“I’m a little nervous and excited at the same time. I hit the ground running, so there’s not a ton of time to be nervous on specifics. I love my situation and have been embracing every aspect of it.”
Q: Who are you looking for to round out your staff in assistant positions? What skills, knowledge and attributes are you searching for?
“I am bringing back Coach Dan Hays, who was my coach. He has wisdom and knows the game. He created a foundation for this program, and I want to build my program on the same foundation.”
Q: What advantages do you possess as a young coach? Do you think there are any disadvantages which hold you back?
“My advantage and disadvantage include my reputation. A lot of people may not know who I am, but I am in a position to prove myself and make a name that people can remember.”
Q: Who are your ultimate coaching icons you hope to model your style after? Who are your role models?
“Coach Hays and also John Thompson. These guys are idols for me because it was always bigger than basketball. I would love to have a team that goes undefeated, but at the same time, I want guys to leave my program and impact the world.”
Q: How will you encourage the players and motivate them to success, after the recent struggles of the past several years?
“I just like to let them know that they have an opportunity to make history. This is a program that hasn’t been successful in a while. I am a young and passionate coach, and I would like for that to be visible. My players will be a reflection of me. Motivation comes with goals. The goal is to change this program around.”