Yancey Walker is in his seventh season as the head basketball coach at Missouri State University-West Plains. In the past six seasons, the Grizzlies have won 125 games with 27 of those wins coming against NJCAA Region XVI opponents. He's mentored three All-Americans and fourteen All-Region XVI performers. In that same time frame, the Grizzlies have also produced four Academic All-Region performers and two Academic Athletes of Distinction. While season number six was hampered by injuries, the Grizzlies still posted an 18-13 season, finishing third in the Region XVI regular season. The season was highlighted by having 101 NCAA Division I coaches from a total of 69 different institutions watch the 2013-2014 squad in action. Devaugntah Williams, Justin Jamison and Arroyo Edwards earned All-Region XVI honors for their contributions.
In his first five seasons as a head coach, Walker had the highest winning percentage in that time frame of any coach in the history of the program. At the beginning of the 2012-2013 season, the Grizzlies were coming off of 52 wins in the prior two years (which included 14 consecutive wins against Region XVI opponents) and 72 total wins in a three-year span. The season started with only one returning sophomore on the roster and a schedule that had four pre-season Top 25 teams in the first fifteen games and ended up with five games against teams that participated in the 2013 NJCAA National Tournament. Even with a young team, the Grizzlies won their last eight regular season games, finishing with a 21-10 record and winning their 2nd Region XVI Regular Season Championship in three seasons. For their efforts, Devaugntah Williams and Keaton Jackson earned All-Region XVI honors.
Coach Walker's fourth year, in what many regarded as a "rebuilding" year due to the fact that they had to replace 80 points per game from the previous year, the Grizzlies continued to make their mark on the record books. They set a record for the fewest points allowed in a season (1807), were ranked as high as #8 nationally in Team Defensive Average and finished the year ranked #9 nationally. They defeated the #2 ranked team in the nation and finished 2nd in the NJCAA Region XVI regular season standings. They also defeated two of the teams that participated in the NJCAA National Tournament. After receiving votes to be an NJCAA Top 20 team for most of the year, Nathane Simniok and Gage Wooten ended the year on the All-Region XVI team with Wooten also being named NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American. The season was highlighted with consecutive wins over Iowa Western Community College, Mineral Area College, Indian Hills Community College, Three Rivers College, State Fair Community College and then Mineral Area again, all in little over a three-week period.
Walker's third year was the best year in the history of the program. The Grizzlies set a school record for most wins in the regular season with 28, the most wins overall with 31 and the most wins in Region XVI regular season play with a perfect 8-0 record. The Grizzlies were rewarded with their first ever #1 National Ranking and a mention by Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson in the March 29, 2011 Congressional Record. In addition, Lonnie Hayes, Quinton Pippen, Travis Wilkins and Teddy Simniok were named to the 2011 All-Region XVI Team with Hayes earning unanimous Player of the Year Honors. Hayes also garnered 1st Team All-American honors and Pippen received an Honorable Mention All-American nod.
A Region XVI Tournament Championship, (for the first time in program history) a District 4 Championship and a birth in the 2011 NJCAA National Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas earned Walker the 2011 Region XVI Coach of the Year honors and the 2011 District 4 Coach of the Year Honors. However, he was quick to point out that having four All-Region performers with two All-Americans was the main reason for his personal accolades. Along with Westley Hinton and Quinton Pippen, Walker was also highlighted in the Basketball Times, a national basketball publication.
In Walker's second year as head coach, a year that began with no returning players and only one true sophomore, even with two key injuries later in the season, the Grizzlies were able to accomplish several impressive feats while finishing 20-10. The Grizzlies were ranked #1 in Team Defensive Average for a substantial part of the season; they defeated Northeastern Oklahoma A&M for the first time in four years; they defeated Cloud County Community College on the road in overtime; they beat Mineral Area College at Mineral Area in a double overtime thriller with only seven healthy players; and they started the season 11-0 earning a national ranking as high as #14. To cap off the year, Gage Wooten was named to the NJCAA All-Region XVI Team.
Coach Walker's first year as head coach challenged him with coaching a team that was recruited to play for someone else and finding a style of play that gave the team the best chance to win. He came to West Plains, Missouri, in April of 2008 to be the Assistant Basketball Coach for the Grizzlies. After only three months on the job, a head coaching vacancy occurred and Walker was promoted to his first collegiate head coaching job at only 29 years of age. At the end of the year, Anthony Allison and Devon Peltier ("VI") earned All-Region honors.
Walker's coaching career began as a junior in college at Thomas More Prep – Marian High School (TMP) in Hays, Kansas. While there, he was an assistant football, women's basketball, assistant baseball and assistant softball coach. His second year, he was promoted to Head Women's Basketball Coach, a nice feat for a young man only 21 years of age. During his time at TMP, he was a part of a District Champion, Bi-District Champion and Regional Runner-Up football team, a third place women's basketball team and a state tournament baseball team. During that same time he also served as the Rooks County (Kansas) Legion Baseball Coach where he lead the team to their first winning season in thirteen years and a third place finish in the Regional Tournament.
After his stint in the high school ranks, Walker went to Colby Community College in Colby, Kansas, as an assistant coach. During his tenure, the Trojans set several school records for overall and conference wins. His second year, the Trojans won the Jayhawk West regular season championship. That team saw all of its players go on to four-year institutions, five of which were NCAA Division I. One player even made it to the NBA. That team also had three All-Conference Players and one All-American.
From Colby, Walker went to Henderson State University (HSU) in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, as a Graduate Assistant Coach. At Henderson, he coached his second All-American and his second conference championship team. HSU also made it to the semi-finals of the NCAA Division II South Region. While at Henderson, Walker coached four more All-Conference players while earning his Master of Science in Sports Administration.
The next stop on his coaching journey was as the assistant coach position at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Arkansas. Even though he started in late June, he was still able to recruit two starters for the 2005-2006 season and four of the top eight players. He helped lead Arkansas Tech to their best start in 24 years.
After his time in Russellville, Coach Walker moved to Hawai'i Pacific University in Honolulu, quite a change for a young man from a small town in rural western Kansas. While there, Walker was the Assistant Head Basketball Coach/Assistant Director of Athletics. He coached and recruited two more All-Conference performers.
Coach Walker was born the son of a coach and has been around basketball his entire life. In fact, as a child, he learned to walk on his high school's basketball court. In high school, Walker was All-Conference as a junior and preseason All-State as a senior until mononucleosis hampered his final season. However, by dealing with the illness and accepting a lesser role as a scorer and a bigger role as a rebounder, he was able to help his team get to the Class 4A State Tournament for the first time in 18 years.
Walker signed out of high school at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas and then transferred to Colby Community College where he played for NAIA Hall of Fame Coach, Bill Morse. He then transferred to Fort Hays State University to earn his bachelor's degree. While in college, Walker was a local news correspondent for KBSH TV – 7 in Hays, Kansas and KLBY TV – 4 in Colby, Kansas.
Walker is an accomplished horseman and competed in a variety of horse shows as a young man.