ALBANY — Several years ago, Dwayne Killings set the goal.
He wanted to be a Division I men’s basketball head coach before he turned 40 years old.
That 40th birthday is early next month — and Killings will be well into his first month as the UAlbany men’s basketball head coach at that point.
Two days after word first circulated that Killings would take over the Great Danes’ program, UAlbany officially announced Wednesday night that the 39-year-old Killings, who served during the 2020-21 season as Marquette’s associate head coach, had been named the school’s next men’s basketball head coach.
A 2003 Hampton graduate who played a couple years of college basketball as a walk-on at UMass, Killings said Wednesday night in a phone interview with The Daily Gazette that he couldn’t wait to get started leading the Great Danes.
“I always worked at it. The only thing I know is hard work,” Killings said of the professional journey that led him to accepting the open coaching position at UAlbany. “I didn’t go through the front door in this business. I went through the side door, the window — but once I got in, people understood I knew what I was doing.”
Killings heads to UAlbany after spending the last three seasons at Marquette. Prior to that, Killings had college coaching stops at Boston University, Temple and UConn, and also spent time working for the then-Charlotte Bobcats and the NBA’s then-D-League.
Along the way, he developed a reputation as a terrific recruiter.
“But the biggest thing about him is he’s a connector,” said Kentucky assistant coach James “Bruiser” Flint, who coached Killings at UMass. “Everywhere he’s gone, he’s made great friends, and he connects the people wherever he goes to the people he’s met before.”
Flint first met Killings when the new UAlbany men’s basketball head coach was a ball boy for UMass teams that John Calipari coached. Calipari, now Kentucky’s head coach and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, said Wednesday in a phone interview that Killings is well-respected within the college coaching ranks.
“His reputation is off the charts,” Calipari said. “Whether you compete against him or you’re working with him, people love that guy.”
Killings will replace Will Brown, who guided the Great Danes from December 2001 until he was dismissed on March 1 of this year. UAlbany won five America East Conference championships during Brown’s tenure.
Killings will inherit a program coming off its third-consecutive losing season, and one with a roster that needs major remodeling. UAlbany finished 7-9 during the 2020-21 campaign, and six of its scholarship players are currently in the NCAA transfer portal — including four starters.
“The biggest thing for me,” Killings said, “is I want to win games and I want to win America East championships — but I also want to inspire our guys to be leaders and great young men.”
A source said that Hamlet Tibbs — a current Vermont assistant coach who coached at Albany Academy and with the Albany City Rocks AAU program prior to joining the Catamounts’ staff — is expected to be on Killings’ coaching staff at UAlbany. Tibbs is a Troy native.
Killings coached at SEFCU Arena, where UAlbany will formally introduce him Thursday as its next head coach, when he was an assistant coach at then-America East member Boston University. An Amherst, Massachusetts native, Killings said he’s previously spent time on the recruiting trail inside head coach “Brian Fruscio’s gym” at Albany Academy.
“So I’m familiar with the Capital Region, and the community and their appreciation for basketball,” said Killings, who worked for Steve Wojciechowski at Marquette. “We’re so excited. This is a great fit for my family.”
Killings’ family includes wife Ana, 6-year-old daughter Alecia and 3-year-old son Tristan.