North Myrtle Beach believes Ryan Walker is the person to add some stability to the boys basketball program.
Walker, who spent the last two seasons as the head coach at Laurens after more than a decade as a college and high school assistant, has been hired to take over the Chiefs’ hoops program, effective immediately.
“Every time you hire a coach, you pray it’s for the long haul,” athletics director Joe Quigley said Monday. “We have great coaches here, and we think this is the piece that will finish the puzzle.”
That had as much to do with the interview process as Xs and Os, if for no other reason that Walker is North Myrtle Beach’s sixth boys coach in the last nine years. Most recently, the position was held by Darcie Vincent, who elected to leave after one season for an assistant position at Western Carolina.
Walker, 36, has never coached locally, but he does have family in the area and he has plans of raising his own children here to be closer to them, Quigley said. Walker could not immediately be reached for comment.
However, his approval by Horry County Schools finalized an extremely quick process that took less than a month from start to finish. The job was posted within days of Vincent’s declaration, and initial interviews started a week after that.
Quigley said every member of the search committee named Walker as his or her top choice among those interviewed.
Late Monday afternoon, Horry County Schools responded to a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the names of all finalists and the total number of applicants. According to information provided by the district, there were 31 applicants for the position. Of those, staff interviewed four candidates: Harold McManus Jr., Mark Snelgrove, Jeffrey Schaffer and Ryan Walker.
Walker was approved last week and will also become a full-time teacher at the school.
In his two seasons at Laurens, the Raiders were 20-30 overall. Laurens finished fifth in its Class 5A region this past winter and missed the postseason.
Prior to taking the head job at Laurens, Walker was an assistant at Dorman High School, where the team won the 2017 Class 5A state championship. Before that, he was at NCAA Division-I USC Upstate. Previously, he was a graduate assistant at NCAA Division-II Emporia State in Kansas, where he also earned a master’s degree in health and physical education.
“He’s a basketball player, he’s a gym rat. He loves the sport,” Quigley said. “He’s in it for the long haul. He wants to be in the area for a while. I just love his energy.”
North Myrtle Beach was 7-16 last season and earned an at-large bid to the postseason.