Byrd Promoted to Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach at Mercer

Head men’s basketball coach Greg Gary announced today that he has elevated D.J. Byrd, who most recently served as the program’s Director of Basketball Operations, to assistant coach.

“It’s an honor,” said Byrd. “We had a player-coach relationship at Purdue, and then I became a graduate assistant there before coming to Mercer. I understand what he wants as a head coach and how our staff clicks and works together. For him to put me in the role of assistant coach is both an honor and a challenge. I have a new role to learn and will work to make the transition as seamless as possible. I’m ready to be on the floor and sidelines coaching our players.”

Byrd spent the 2019-20 campaign in charge of all logistical operations for the Bears. In his role, he coordinated travel, practice schedules and oversaw both graduate and undergraduate managers.

“I am very exciting about DJ stepping into his new role,” Gary stated. “He has an excellent basketball mind and a fantastic rapport with our playes. He will continue to be a great asset to our program.”

Prior to following Gary to Mercer, Byrd spent two seasons (2017-18 and 2018-19) as a graduate assistant for the Boilermakers where Gary served an eight-year stint as an assistant coach to Matt Painter, the 2019 National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Coach of the Year.

As a graduate assistant at Purdue, Byrd helped the Boilermakers to a combined 56-17 overall record and 31-7 mark in Big Ten play. He assisted the coaching staff with on-campus recruiting efforts, scouting reports, analytics and on-court development.

In Byrd’s final season as a graduate assistant, the Boilermakers hoisted the Big Ten Tournament trophy and made a run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament as a  No. 3 seed with wins over Old Dominion (61-48), Villanova (87-61) and Tennessee (99-94, OT). Purdue fell just six points short of defeating the Virginia Cavaliers and advancing to its first Final Four in more than 35 years.

Purdue went 30-7 in his first season as a graduate assistant and made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Along the way, the Boilermakers picked up multiple wins over top-25 programs including a 25-point rout of No. 2 Arizona in the Battle 4 Atlantis over the Thanksgiving holiday break. Other notable victories included a 66-57 win over No. 17 Louisville and a 92-88 defeat of No. 25 Michigan – both of which took place at Purdue’s Mackey Arena.

Before joining the collegiate coaching ranks, Byrd was the head JV coach and assistant varsity coach at Franklin Community High School from 2015-17. He helped the Grizzly Cubs win back-to-back Mid-State Conference titles with the 2017 title being the team’s first outright conference championship in 30 years. In his two seasons with the program, Franklin Community amassed a 31-16 record.

While at FCHS, Byrd was also the owner and operator of RIMROC Basketball, an organization which housed Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) teams and allowed Indiana youth basketball players to participate in training sessions, games, tournaments and camps. Additionally, he the Director of Operations for camps for a pair of Purdue graduates turned professional players – Robbie Hummel and Dakota Mathias.

Byrd’s coaching career began at his alma mater, North Montgomery High School, where he spent the 2014-15 campaign as a volunteer assistant coach. The Chargers went 14-10 and won the Sugar Creek Classic over the holidays, as well as the county championship at season’s end.

Byrd played four seasons at Purdue (2009-13), and Gary was an assistant for the final two campaigns. The Crawfordsville, Ind. native appeared in 130 career games and scored 890 points. He connected on 195 three-pointers, the ninth-most in Boilermaker history.

He led Purdue to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, including a Sweet 16 appearance as a sophomore. That same year, his squad won the Big Ten Regular Season Championship. As a junior, Byrd was the Big Ten’s Sixth Man of the Year. To date, he is the only Boilermaker to win the award during Purdue’s time in the Big Ten.

The sharp-shooting guard also won numerous team awards, including team’s 2011 Doc Combs “Play Hard” Award, which was awarded to the Boilermaker who led the team in a combination of steals, charges taken, loose balls grabbed, blocked shots, rebounds and assists. Additional awards given to Byrd included the squad’s assist award in 2012 and hustle award in 2013. 

Off the court, he earned Academic All-Big Ten honors on three occasions.

During his four-year tenure as a player in West Lafayette, Byrd and Purdue amassed a 93-45 (.674) mark and a 46-26 (.639) record in league play.

As a senior, Byrd averaged 10.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Following the end of his collegiate playing days, he signed a contract with the Kirchheim Knights in the German Pro A league where he contributed 12.1 points per game in his lone season with the squad.

Byrd earned his Bachelor of Science in organizational leadership and supervision from Purdue in 2009 and followed that by obtaining his Master of Science in leadership in 2013. He and his wife Ashley reside in Macon.

Story Courtesy Mercer Athletics: Kraig Doremus

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