D.J Byrd accepted an assistant coaching position on Greg Gary’s Mercer Bears coaching staff today.
We are to announce that @djbyrd21 has been promoted to assistant coach! He served as Director of Operations during the 2019-20 season!— Mercer Men's Basketball (@MercerMBB) July 31, 2020
Learn more ➡ https://t.co/udNBzZQ0gD#RoarTogether pic.twitter.com/10gYnxhgue
Byrd has been grinding away as a basketball coach since he finished up his Purdue playing career. He started as a volunteer assistant at North Montgomery High School, school alma mater, in 2014-15.
He moved to Franklin Community High School in 2015 and took over as the head JV coach and an assistant varsity coach. His tenure at Franklin was successful, but he returned to Purdue in 2017 to take a graduate assistant position on Matt Painters staff.
Byrd was a graduate assistant for Coach Painter from 2017-2019. Those were some pretty solid years for the Boilermakers (as we all know). He was part of the staff that collected a Big10 Regular Season Championship and an Elite 8 appearance.
Last season, he accepted the role as Director of Basketball Operations at Mercer, when Purdue assistant Greg Gary accepted the head coaching job with the Bears. After one season of working behind the scenes for Mercer, Coach Gary called him up to the big leagues, offering a spot on the Mercer bench as an assistant coach.
Last season, Coach Gary took over a Mercer squad on the heels of a disappointing 11-20 season and put up a respectable 17-15 record, including an 11-7 record in the Southern Conference, including a road win over conference Champion East Tennessee State, after going 6-12 in conference the previous season.
Thus far, Matt Painter’s coaching tree has consisted of former assistants, as far as I know (and I’m sure I will be corrected if I’m wrong), DJ is the first former Painter player to accept a bench coaching role at a Division 1 school. This is a significant milestone in Painter’s coaching legacy.
As we saw with Coach Painter, it’s always nice to have a selection of former players you can call back to the mother ship if the need arrives. Having guys like DJ develop their coaching acumen could potentially make the search for assistant coaches at Purdue easier in the future.
If nothing else (and I’m sure there is plenty else), the Mercer basketball team should take a step up in their trick shot game with DJ on the bench.
If you’re looking for another college basketball team to support, the Mercer Bears will have a decidedly Purdue vibe the next couple years.