Actually, it was a top six list. Walton was picked No. 4. Senters tied with Mike Boyd of East Tennessee State for No. 5. At least 75 percent of the coaches in the A-Sun voted.
Walton, a former standout at Mississippi State and a member of the 1996 Final Four team, is entering his 14th season as an assistant for Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson. Walton worked with Sanderson for two seasons at Mobile before making the move to Lipscomb where Sanderson is starting his 12th season.
“Jay touches every part of our program from recruiting to coaching to scheduling to monitoring players academically,” Sanderson said. “I can go on-and-on about what he does.
“He is a very well-liked person. He has a very good disposition about him.”
Sanderson heard about Walton through his father, Wimp Sanderson, who was coaching at Alabama at the time. Richard Williams was the coach at Mississippi State and he and Wimp were close friends.
“They knew I was trying to hire an assistant coach,” Sanderson said. “That happened to be Jay.
“Jay has been a vital part of what we have been doing here. But more than anything he is a good person, a good father and a good husband.”
Sanderson doesn’t think that many of the players know of Walton’s college basketball history.
“The players respect Jay for who he is and the man that he is and what he stands for,” Sanderson said.
Sanderson knows Walton wants to be a head coach and he knows he is ready, but he isn’t looking forward to the day when the two part ways professionally.
“I want him to be a head coach, and I know he is ready to be one, but it is going to be a sad day for me when he does decide to leave,” Sanderson said. “We have had a very good relationship for a long time. More than anything else I trust him.”
Senters has been working with Sanderson for 11 seasons. He is a former player at Lipscomb.
“Shaun understands the school and the impact it had on his life,” Sanderson said, “He understood the school more than I did when I first got here.
“He does a very good job recruiting. He knows a lot of people. The players enjoy being around him. He does a lot with our individual workouts.”
Sanderson pointed out that Senters is also high on the list of the people he trusts.
“It is good to know that I can go out of town and recruit or whatever I need to do because Shaun is here doing what needs to be done with our players,” Sanderson said. “Sometimes Shaun is a friend to the players off of the floor.”
Pete Froedden is also an assistant coach for the Bisons. Sanderson stresses that assembling a coaching staff is very similar to putting together a team. It is necessary to have different personalities with different approaches to problem solving.
“Each member of the staff has his own strengths,” Sanderson said. “To have a guy for 14 years and another for 11 years is very uncommon at this level. They don’t work for me. They work with me. I don’t micromanage them, but I hold them responsible for doing what they have to do. We all speak the same language.
“On the floor Jay and Shaun are very similar where Pete and I get after the players more. We are more demanding when the players are on the floor than Jay or Shaun, but you can’t have four guys like that. The players know when the coaches are on the same page. They see the camaraderie that we have.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.