The coaching staff for new Idaho State men’s basketball coach Ryan Looney will feature new faces.
The recently hired Looney will not retain any of the assistants that served under former head coach Bill Evans, multiple sources have told the Journal since Looney was hired last week.
Evans’ staff for the 2018-19 season included associate head coach Kyle Taylor, plus assistant coaches Tim Walsh and C.J. Killin, and graduate assistant coach Chris Hansen. Taylor, Killin and Hansen all spent one season with ISU. Walsh had been with the Bengals since 2009, serving under head coaches Evans and Joe O’Brien, as well as interim head coach Deane Martin (2011-12).
The Journal also learned Monday that rising seniors Kelvin Jones and Alonzo Walker are transferring. The journeymen are leaving ISU as graduate transfers and have one remaining year of eligibility. Jones and Walker are two of eight players on ISU’s roster who are set to be seniors.
In 29 games this past season (28 starts), Jones averaged 9.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game. His scoring average was third-best on the team. He was second on the club rebounds.
Jones’ blocks-per-game average ranked fourth in the Big Sky Conference and sixth in ISU history. He also led ISU and ranked fifth in the Big Sky by making 55.3 percent of his field goals.
The 6-foot-11 center scored 10 or more points in seven of his final nine games as a Bengal, including a memorable final week of the regular season. He notched a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double in a home win over Weber State, followed two games later by a 14-point effort in a comeback win over Idaho in which Jones scored ISU’s final 12 points.
Jones also fouled out 13 times and was one foul shy of tying ISU’s single-season record for fouls. Jones’ 3.93 fouls per game led qualified Division I players last season, according to teamrankings.com.
Before ISU, Jones spent two seasons at UTEP, including one as a redshirt. He then played one season at Odessa College in Texas and this past campaign at Idaho State. He said he is transferring due to the coaching change and staff shakeup. Jones came to ISU with Killin, who was an assistant coach at Odessa while Jones played there.
Jones said he is not entering the transfer portal at this time so he can focus on academics, but he will enter the portal at a later date. As of Monday morning, Jones said he had not reached out to any programs.
“A big thanks to everybody here. Some of the best people I’ve met in my life are here,” Jones told the Journal. “Coach Evans is one of those guys. I’m going to miss a lot of the people here. I’m thankful for everything ISU did for me. Best of luck luck to the guys here.”
Walker also spent one season with the Bengals, averaging 6.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in 19.1 minutes per game off the bench — second-most among ISU’s primarily reserve players.
At 6-foot-6, Walker was Jones’ immediate backup at center, often taking on taller post players. His 51.9 percent field-goal clip was second on the team behind Jones, and he was second on the team with 14 blocked shots.
Walker’s ISU finale may have been his best outing as a Bengal. He tied a season high with 28 minutes, scored a season-high 17 points and tied a season high with three steals in ISU’s loss to Southern Utah in the first round of the Big Sky Conference tournament in Boise.
Walker is entering the NCAA transfer portal and is opening hie recruitment to all schools. He started his college career at Kent State, where he spent two seasons (one redshirt). He then played with Jones at Odessa before coming to ISU for one season.
“Coach Evans was such a great, high-character guy,” Walker told the Journal. “So see him go kind of hurts me. I learned a lot from him.”
Jones and Walker are at least the third and fourth ISU players to seek other opportunities for next season since Evans was fired in March. Brandon Boyd and Gary Chivichyan are in the NCAA transfer portal, but have not decided where they will play next season.
Boyd told the Journal on Monday his top schools are Idaho State, Cal Baptist, Washington State, Arkansas and TCU. He led ISU in scoring last season with 14.2 points per game, to go with a team-best 3.6 assists per game.
Chivichyan told the Journal on Monday his top schools are ISU, Pacific, Detroit Mercy, Southern Illinois and Texas Rio Grande Valley. He averaged 8.5 ppg last season while shooting 41.1 percent from 3-point range.
Both Chivichyan and Boyd would leave ISU as graduate transfers and have one remaining year of eligibility.