Welcome to episode five of our Hoop Heads Podcast Series called “Mentality with Dwayne Killings – Season One at UAlbany” The series will document Dwayne’s first year as the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at the University at Albany.
We plan to record and release 2-4 episodes per month with Dwayne and/or players, coaches, administrators, media members, and others associated with the Great Danes Basketball Program to get an inside look at what being a first year head coach at the Division 1 level is all about.
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Today we’re diving in with UAlbany Assistant Coaches Hamlet Tibbs and Dannton Jackson along with Director of Recruiting and Video KJ Baptiste. We’ll learn more about their coaching journeys and what brought them to the staff at the University at Albany to work for Head Coach Dwayne Killings.
What We Discuss with Hamlet Tibbs, Dannton Jackson, & KJ Baptiste
- Hamlet, Dannton, & KJ’s basketball journeys leading up to their arrival at UAlbany
- Their relationship with Dwayne Killings and their hiring at UAlbany
- How they see their role in building the University at Albany Men’s Basketball Program under the leadership of Dwayne Killings
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THANKS, DWAYNE KILLINGS
If you enjoyed this episode with Hamlet Tibbs, Dannton Jackson, and KJ Baptiste let them know by clicking on the link below and sending them a quick shout out on Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly NBA episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
TRANSCRIPT FOR “MENTALITY” PART 5 WITH DWAYNE KILLINGS – UALBANY MEN’S BASKETBALL ASSISTANT COACHES HAMLET TIBBS & DANNTON JACKSON AND DIRECTOR OF RECRUITING AND VIDEO KJ BAPTISTE – EPISODE 469
DK 5 Raw
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here without my co-host Jason Sunkle this morning, but I am pleased to be joined by three members of the staff at the University at Albany with Dwayne Killings. And we have with us Hamlet Tibbs, KJ Baptiste, and Dannton Jackson. Guys, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod
Hamlet Tibbs: [00:00:17] Mike, thank you for having us on this podcast.
Mike Klinzing: [00:00:19] It’s a pleasure. Yeah, we’re excited to have you guys thank you for
Dannton Jackson: [00:00:22] Thank you for having us again. It’s just definitely an honor to be here for sure.
KJ Baptiste: [00:00:27] Thank you for having us man. Nice to meet you. And I’m excited to be here.
Mike Klinzing: [00:00:29]All right. Thanks guys. Hamlet, let’s start with you.
Give us an idea of, just tell us a little bit about your coaching history. Your background, pull out some highlights of your coaching career as we go back and you look back over the totality of it, just to give people a feel for your background as a coach. Absolutely.
Hamlet Tibbs: [00:00:47] I don’t know how many highlights I have.
No, my coaching career started in Albany. You know, I’m from the area. I lived in Albany until I was [00:01:00] 11 and moved Detroit lived in Troy we’re up in Troy. I went to high school, played basketball there, and I went to West Virginia where I was a student manager for the basketball. John beeline was the head coach.
There went to the lead, a sweet 16 to two years. I was a student manager with that, with that program. And then when I came back, West Virginia. When I graduated, came back to the Albany area, that’s where my coaching career sort of started to begin. I got in to teaching and coaching Albany in the area. I was a teacher at a private school Albany Academy, and I was coaching there.
I was head freshmen, coach, a head JV coach, and I was an assistant for the varsity team. Bryan food shows the head coach there at Albany Academy. And I did that for five years and I was also a coach with the Albany city rocks program was on the circuit for five years. [00:02:00] But I started actually, when I got back from West Virginia I started coaching seventh grade modified girls basketball before I got, you know, to the voice side.
So Shout out to that Livingston and hack it seven out of five girls team. So then You know, I just grind it my way through, you know, the high school and AAU ranks and then, you know, built my, built my network and my relationships with people and the business. And I finally caught my break and got into coaching division.
One basketball I started up at Vermont was up there for seven years. We accomplished a lot. I learned a lot from coach Becker, coach Becker gave me my, my shot and my first opportunity. So I’m very thankful for him giving me that opportunity because I learned a lot from, from the coaching staff up there.
And it really. You know, it really built up my, my coaching resume. And so which [00:03:00] now I’m here back home seven years later. And you know, and now I’m an assistant coach at U Albany.
Mike Klinzing: [00:03:07] so did you know, you always wanted to coach from the time you were a kid. When did, when did coaching get on your radar as a potential profession?
Hamlet Tibbs: [00:03:14] I think when I got, when got to high school, When I got to high school, I knew I really wanted to coach cause I played basketball. You know, since I was five years old just to go and there was a YMCA right down the street from my house. When I lived in Albany, I used to go over there and play all the time.
And then you know, I played, played JV basketball. I played varsity two year, two years, started on varsity team, Metro high. But once I got, once I got to high school, I really knew I wanted to coach because I fell in love with the game at such an early age. And also I knew I wasn’t. Going to be good enough to play division one basketball or be a professional.
So I was like, let me know. I want to say, stay, stay apart of basketball. Cause I love loved the game. So I was like, you know, coach and be perfect for me.
Mike Klinzing: [00:03:54] Yeah. We talked a little bit with Danny and Matt about sort of the different ways and paths that people come to the game [00:04:00] as a coach. And Danny was saying how he knew from the time he was young and that he, that he wanted to be a coach.
And then you had Matt who was a player and got done with his playing career. And then he looked around and said, Hey, I want to. You know, I want to stay in the game and it’s amazing how almost every coach fits into one of those two categories, where they knew from a young age, that even when they were playing, they knew that they wanted to eventually end up in coaching.
And then there’s other people that when the game ends for them as a player that suddenly now they start looking at it and go, how can I stay involved in the game? I always think it’s fascinating just to hear the two different mindsets or the two different ways that people come to coaching, because I think it.
I think it definitely impacts sort of your approach in terms of how much, how I’ll prepare you. I think generally speaking, those who know they’re going to coach from the time they’re younger, probably are more prepared initially than I was one of those guys who I played. And then when I was done, I’m like, well, maybe I’ll just coach.
And I thought, well, that was a good player. So I’d probably be a good coach. And you realize very quickly that that is not, [00:05:00] that is not the case. That the two are not necessarily related. Obviously they can be, but they’re not necessarily they’re not necessarily related All right, KJ, let’s jump over it.
Let’s jump over to you. I think I muted you a second ago, so you may have to unmute just so we’ve taken away that echo and just, just go ahead and share, share your story
KJ Baptiste: [00:05:18] Cool. So Mike my story started, I would say from when I was a player at Brandeis university, I had the chance to play there for two years and then 16 of our guys end up quitting the team, things that happened, whatever.
And then I had to take the opportunity. I didn’t know what to do with my time, my off time of having to schedule. Being a college basketball player and, you know, basketball my whole life. I had to get my feet moving and try to figure what I was doing. So my high school coach actually gave me an opportunity to coach at Brimmer and may it’s a prep school in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
And I would say he’s the guy that had got me into coaching and wanting to develop young men and the player development side of it all. And while my time as a junior in college, I was coaching at Brimmer in may as an assistant. [00:06:00] So that’s summer of my junior summer, my uncle Leo to pale will be ABC.
You gave me a chance to coach the 16 youth team. So I was coaching will be ABC 16 U and the summers. And then the senior year, I ended up coaching for mermaid again in the winter. And then again at the end of the year would be ABC. After that, once I graduated, I had to figure it out. I wanted to start a career.
I wanted to get a GA didn’t have a chance to get one that year. So I ended up getting into software sales. I was in sales for a company called salary.com for about eight months was doing the nine to five whole deals, sales, gig, everything. I just had the itch and everybody calls it a bug, but I had the bug I needed to get back into basketball.
I was thinking about it every day. I was going home and watching clips and everything. So I had to figure out a way to get back into it. At the time, my assistant coach from Brandeis actually started his own company called Boston elite basketball training. So he’s trained in a bunch of kids in the inner city, outer city everywhere.
And I called them and I was like, listen, this is what I’m making here. Do you think I can manage making it through training or whatever the situation is? And he told me I could. So I took a. Leap of a leap of faith, [00:07:00] thought about it. And I was, you know what I was getting back into, let’s figure it out.
So I jumped into it, started doing training. I did really well with training in the Boston area, did that for about a year and a half. And then my uncle connected me and Tom Nelson, the high school coach up and remake connects me with a guy named Kevin Freeman who was formerly at Yukon last year as an assistant.
He ended up giving me a call and told me they had a position open. Right. Penn state as a grad assistant. So I jumped on in a second. Ended up getting hired at Penn state, spent my last two years at Penn state. Then ended up into here and I’ll be Albany.
Mike Klinzing: [00:07:31] So what was, what was surprising to you when you got the GA position at Penn state, in terms of where you, was there anything about being sort of behind the scenes as a coach, after having been a player for so long that surprised you about coaching?
Like how much time coaches spend on X or Y or just something maybe you didn’t realize before you got into college coaching?
KJ Baptiste: [00:07:52] So it’s funny. I talked to these guys about it all the time. AAU world is much different from college basketball. And I always thought it was like, all right, you know what we do at player development, you do your Scouts, you watch a little bit of film [00:08:00] and you get to it.
You don’t see the ins and outs of everything you have to do with the meetings you have to go to with the networking you have to do with the actual film breakdown that you have to do with the coding you have to do with the Excel sheets, everything. You don’t understand that as a player because you don’t see that side.
You don’t get to step in the office. So now being in the office and seeing it, it’s like, hold on, this is a whole different world. Like now I have a whole different respect for coaches now. It’s like, you know what, when I was a player, I’m like, all right, I had tough days. I had great days, but now being on the other side of it all, I’m like, you know what?
This is a whole different beast.
Mike Klinzing: [00:08:29] So, yeah, that’s so true. I mean, I think as players, you’re so shielded from it that you don’t see all that extra time. You think, eh, maybe they plan for, you know, a half hour with the, put the practice together, show up, you know, practice ends and they just go home and eat their dinner and she’ll back up the next morning.
Meanwhile, I got to go to class and study homework and all this stuff, those coaches got it easy. And then you realize once you, once you see what’s really going on, how difficult now challenging that could be any thought. Was there ever any thought to kind of stay in the private basketball? Business and [00:09:00] sticking with the training.
Did you ever think that maybe that would be a way to go or did you know that you wanted to get into, you know, you wanted to get back to more of a, you know, a team of college setting.
KJ Baptiste: [00:09:09] So the biggest thing was my father is a police officer, so we always talk about how to mold and change young men and how they have two different paths.
And you could be that one little decision that makes that kid turn left rather than taking the right turn. For sure. Biggest thing was me was trying to like be a good guy in college basketball. I would say of just being able to mold a kid, take them out of my way and mentor them and just make them into a better man.
So That’s yeah, that’s, that’s where I’m going with that one. So I’m gonna leave it at that. So it makes sense.
Mike Klinzing: [00:09:34] The training businesses, a lot of hustling, let’s put it, yeah, exactly. Hustling to keep clients and to keep people happy. And you know, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a tough world to be in. There’s no question, is it?
KJ Baptiste: [00:09:45] And you’ve got different spectrums of levels and it’s hard to be engaged in certain lenses. It’s a lot, it’s a lot,
Mike Klinzing: [00:09:50] There’s a lot, there’s a lot to manage and it’s, it doesn’t as much as. At least when you got what you guys are doing. Yeah. You’re putting in a lot of hours and a lot of time, but at least there’s [00:10:00] a, there’s a structure to it where it feels like we’re, it feels like training.
You can be, you know, one day to the next year, you know, you don’t know where you’re, you know, you don’t know where your next paycheck is coming from. So I, I completely understand. All right, Dan share with us, share with us your background, share with us kind of the path that’s that’s brought year at university at Albany.
Dannton Jackson: [00:10:18] Well, you know, I’m originally from Los Angeles, California. And I transferred to a school in new Orleans called Xavier university. Both my mom and dad had went to Xavier university. So my dream as a, as a young, as a young boy growing up in California, was to play in the NBA. You know, I played on a team with with Mitchell Butler, with Tracy and Marie and those guys out of California.
And so I averaged 20 points, a game in high school. So I thought, you know, that translate and I was to be an NBA player and transferred to Davis university in high school. And. You know, my, my junior year I kind of liked, kind of came on you know, it wasn’t playing whole lot. Just said, you know what? I got to figure out what I’m doing.
And I had made it in political science, pre law, and never knew what a lawyer did. Everything. And one of my teachers as a junior was a judge. [00:11:00] And so he took me around, show me the courtroom. And I said, no, no, no, this is not what I want to do. And so I didn’t have it. So upon graduation you know, I spent some time in court playing a paper, which is very important and I got a job with all mate.
I’m working for enterprise. And that year I wouldn’t, I would just miss basketball. So I will come to the gym and. Help him get him. Quote, unquote, graduate assistant coach. No, not in graduates. Coach may U basketball that summer. And I, I really enjoyed basketball. And that’s what I wanted. I felt like, you know, I wanted to post my mom and dad were both teachers.
They were integrated teach other people how to play basketball. And so, you know, I went home and coached AAU team back in California, and I just really miss living in the South. So I just got in my car and drove back and, you know, I was getting ready to wash dishes for the wind, the Western hotel. I remember that.
And I got a call. Saying, would you be interested in being the assistant women’s basketball coach and the head men’s and women’s cross country coach at Xavian adversity. I knew [00:12:00] nothing about cross country and I was scared and terrified because I was 23 years old now for us at the backend tomorrow, Mata coaching women’s basketball.
So I was scared, frightened, and had no idea what I was doing myself answer. My boss was amazing. Janice Joseph, who went on to become the head coach at San Jose state. And she was amazing and she molded me. And for four or five years, we had a lot of success there. And it was just amazing how patient she was and took time teaching me the game, teaching me how to coach, teach me how to teach me to be a professional.
From there, I went to Virginia state. I came back to Xavier university as the assistant men’s coach, and I just kind of worked my way up. I got a chance to get to graduate school. Always felt like I needed to better myself, got a chance to work the 1996 Olympics. So I got a chance to see a lot of basketball and see a lot of styles of the play.
At Xavier, I was there for 25 years. I was in the head coach for 13 years. I was the athletic director twice. Head men’s basketball coach associate head coach. I think I washed dishes, worked in the cafeteria. I did housing for a little bit after Katrina. So I got a chance to really really have my footprints in the program, [00:13:00] being a head coach, but really figure out who I was in the process.
You know, being a head coach 23 years old, being thrusted in this business, there’s a lot of things that go to the right and the left, but I got a chance to really find out who I was and who, and how I wanted to coach and really grow young men. I was there for 25 years, had a lot of success at Xavier.
We had graduated a lot of guys you know, rebuilt the program after hurricane Katrina, which was difficult, but very special because it forced us to go back to the process. You know, we talk about wins. We talk about, but just the process of really, truly building a program. After catastrophe after a national disaster.
So that time was a really special time. And we had a lot of success. We didn’t think we were going to have a lot of success that first year we had a tremendous amount of success and we’re really lucky, but it was just our guys fall in love with the process. After 25 years at Xavier, I got an opportunity to be the associate head coach at the university of Alabama, Birmingham.
And I never thought I would leave Xavier. You know, to me, mentoring young people. Was the biggest [00:14:00] thing, teaching young people. And I had an opportunity to do that Xavier and the challenges of new teams, challenges of recruiting, the challenges of building was enough. Because again, we’re, we’re mentoring remolding, and that’s truly what my, what my calling is.
I got chance to work at Goldman and be the associate head coach at university Alabama, or forgot the name of coach Esau. Who is, this was his first coaching first head coaching job. I worked at Maryland. And so it was exciting. Those four years got a chance to learn a lot for the first time I was thrusted with working with two guys, having a staff of six.
Now I go from calling my own place for 13 years to now being a professional suggestion maker. Right. Exactly. So that was exciting because changes, changes is inevitable and changes is change is good. And so I did that for four years. And then I got an opportunity to come up here to work at university of Albany and you know, Duane killing it.
I’ve been knowing each other for a long time. We met each other in a real sweaty, small gym in Meridian, Mississippi. He was investing in kids. I drove up from new Orleans and we both [00:15:00] got a chance to invest in kids. My roommate in college was a state farm agent and he, and he, we played basketball together.
So we wanted to, to change a city, change, a culture infuse in a city. He was married to. Dwayne sister. And so immediately we were thrusted in, got a chance to meet each other. But I think the biggest thing was at our core, we want to change young people’s lives. And years later, we have the opportunity to come here on a staff and really change people’s lives.
And I think that’s, that’s what it’s really all about. And that’s kinda my story. You know I’ve been blessed. This is I’ve been in the business for, this is my 29th year. I’ve had a lot of success, a lot of different levels. I got a chance to coach one of the top AAU teams in the country, the new Orleans jazz.
So again, we got chance to mold people, DJ Augustine, Brandon Bass, Glen Davis Garrett temple. A lot of guys came through our program Shane foster, Vanderbilt, Tasman, Mitchell’s now coaching. And you know, the, the, I think the biggest thing is just being in this profession for 28, 29 years. You know, I started to see my guys who played for me [00:16:00] in guys.
That work with me are now head coaches at Alcorn state in high school. And they’re having a lot of success. And just seeing those young people who coach and just what they’re doing with their lives is probably the most rewarding thing for me as a basketball coach.
Mike Klinzing: [00:16:14] Yeah. We hear that from so many coaches just in terms of, when you think about how you define success and obviously.
Within your season, those wins and losses and all that are critically important to you as you’re going through and at the division one college level, ultimately that’s probably how you’re judged, but, but really, I think in our heart of hearts as coaches, you know, you guys have all mentioned it that, you know, you want to have an impact on, on people and have an impact on the kids that you’re coaching and give them a better opportunity to have success and to set them up.
For success in life. And to me again, that’s really what it’s all about. And I I’ve heard that from Duane. And I’ve heard that from each one of you today. And I think that it’s so true when you really look at the opportunity to use basketball, something that we all love to use [00:17:00] that as your vehicle, to be able to impact someone’s life.
I mean, not many people get the opportunity to use something that they love then to be able to impact young people. Dan, when you think back to you starting your career, what’s something that you were pretty good at when it came to being a coach right away. So you think back to getting that women’s job when you were 23, what’s something that you took to naturally as a coach and then what’s something you feel like you got a lot better at.
As you went along to the point where you are now. So maybe something that you were good at right away and something that you improved on.
Dannton Jackson: [00:17:36] I think the biggest thing was, was just people, the people skills, you know, just having the capacity to connect with people. And once you have that connection, then the trust builds, but just, just being able to connect with people and be a connector and put people together.
I think that was one of my truly guests. I think I got that from my mom and dad. They were also educated as well. So just this teaching was one of the biggest things I thought [00:18:00] just connecting people in the ability to teach. I think the biggest thing for me was the technical side of it and what I did, I’ve always done it in the course of my life.
And I have a lot of different stories is always got mental. And that was the big thing for me. I wanted to speed up my learning curve. And so I just used look for opportunities for folks to mentor me others. There’s there’s two big ones. I’ll, I’ll give you an example of. The, the first one is a guy named Kenny Wilkinson and I met Kenny Williamson, coaching AAU and ABC camp, and the ones with Simon McCarroll and me and Kenny had an unbelievable connection.
And he was a scout for an NBA to New York Knicks at the time. So he took a liking to me and I took a liking him. So when I first got the job at Xavier as a tech coach, we sat down late at night. He shared with me all the things I should do as a head coach and all the things I should not do. And that really speeded up my learning curve.
And I took that and just ran with it in so many directions. We were, had a relationship. I used to go to the Bobcat and he was a [00:19:00] VP. Then I’m sitting outside the final four and coach self, but I could not get into the lounge. And so we were called, I remember it was, it was, it was in Minneapolis. And I remember when we had the top defensive team in country.
And so I said, coach, you know, you know, I would like to, you know, see if I come down with no problem. So a couple of years later, he won the national championship and I knew that he had lost every single Mario Chalmers, all the guys on his basketball team, but he was doing a foreign trip that summer. So he had all new guys that was the perfect time.
So I went down to Lawrence, Kansas spent seven, eight days down in Lawrence, Kansas, and picked up his defense that I brought back with me. So what I did was I liked what he did. I went and spent considerable amount of time with him. He invested with, he invested in me. He met with our, our, the small group that came down there every single day, one over games.
And so he speeded up my learning [00:20:00] curve. I came back that year and I advanced them being 11th, 12th, best team in the country, defensively to top three in the country, the mental toughness that he taught me, same thing after the storm. You know, we had hurricane Katrina, so I had six feet of water in my house.
I evacuated the Memphis. My Adidas guys called me and said, Hey, call camp. So I went over to John Calipari practice and for 30 days I got a chance to visually put my eyes and get better as a basketball coach. So. We started to con you know, to question them is, is that what are you good at is great, but also were areas, can you get better at, and how do you get better at is by speeding up your learning curve?
So now I’m coaching AAU. I got DJ Augustine in ninth grade. I got Brandon Bass in the ninth grade. I got Shane foster. And so all I did was learn speed up their learning curve. So I introduced them to things that we were doing on the college level and it sped up their learning curve. So now. [00:21:00] They’re doing things that people are doing in college and in the NBA in high school.
And so that’s one of the things that I picked up just by being around older guys, is that you got to have a mentor. You got to have some guys that can, that you can bounce stuff off that you can learn stuff off, but more importantly, some guys say, Hey man, That’s not right. You got to change the way you’re doing, and that can be transparent with you and be strong enough to say, Hey, and pull you to the side.
And so those are the things from what I was good at to things that I think made a huge difference in my career. And I got better at.
Mike Klinzing: [00:21:39] That makes a ton of sense. I think when you talk about being able to be a lifelong learner, and that’s a phrase that, you know, probably 10 years ago, you didn’t necessarily hear people saying that, but it’s a phrase that you hear now all the time of being a lifelong learner.
And I think that people have success and it could be as a basketball coach or be as a business person or whatever it is that the people who are the best at [00:22:00] what they do are people who are continuously looking for ways that they can improve. Cause we all know that when you’re just, when you’re static, Right.
You’re moving backwards because other people are moving ahead and they’re trying to figure out ways to get better. And I think all of us who care about what we do and want to have an impact, you know, we’re continuously looking for ways to learn. And in all honesty, like when I think about this podcast, it has, it has a mission of trying to help grow the game and do those kinds of things.
But it’s also been a huge learning process for me. I mean, I get to talk to interesting people from all different levels of the game, from all different places in the country, all over the world. And just to be able to hear their different thoughts and the way that they approach things for me has been just, I mean, it’s amazing to be able to sit and just be able to have these conversations.
All right. I want to shift gears to how each of you ended up getting this opportunity at the university at Albany. So Hamlet, I’ll throw it to you first. Just talk about Dwayne reaches out to you. How does it come to pass that you end up, you ended up with the great Danes.
[00:23:00] Hamlet Tibbs: [00:23:00] Yeah. So, you know, actually I was at Vermont and the, you know, me and me and DK.
We, we talk a lot, you know, I met him 10 years ago when when I was actually working at Albany Academy, we took our varsity team up there to their team camp. So we’ve been friends for, for a very long time. Always stayed in touch actually a year ago. You know, during the whole COVID shut down, we were on zoom calls together every Sunday, you know, a pocket of his friend actually met coach Matt Griffin was on, on that zoom call, those zoom calls as well.
And so we, we had a tight relationship and I did not know he was going to become the head coach here at U Albany. Until, you know, I sort of found out maybe kind of a couple of weeks before that it was down to him and another coach. But he reached out to me and I, you know, they asked me if I would be interested in coming here.
And said, yeah, [00:24:00] definitely. I would be interested. And but not knowing that he would obviously actually get the job. So I think it was like maybe two days before he actually, it was, he was announced the new head coach here. That he had reached out to be, you know, he kind of felt good about, you know, getting a job and we had a conversation and he just called me and he explained to me the, his vision for the, for the program his vision for, for me and you know, what my role would be here and bringing me here and, you know, all of the opportunities that, you know, That if I was to come here, that I would be provided with.
And you know, so when he got announced that he was, you know, when it became real that he was the head coach here called him, you know, he called my boss. My former boss say, and you know, had a conversation with him and, and, and did the right thing and asking him if he could talk to me to reach out to me.
So he did that then, you know, coach Bakker called me and told me, you know, that DK was going [00:25:00] to call me about, you know, coming here. And so we had another conversation. And then after that conversation, the Ady Mark Benson here, he called me the next day. And he was Telling me about the vision of the program and the direction that they wanted to go.
And, you know, so after those two conversations with coach killings and Mark Benson, you know, I was, so then I was all on board.
Mike Klinzing: [00:25:23] It’s interesting when you, when you get the right opportunity. Cause obviously you’ve been at New Hampshire for I’m sorry, Vermont for, for a long time with seven years.
Right? Is that right? So I’m sure that that decision you, you’re not going to leave that. Opportunity, you know, you’re not going to take that lightly and leave it for just any opportunity. So I’m sure your previous, previous relationship with Dwayne, and then just sounds like after having those conversations and seeing what the vision was, that that’s what sold you on it?
Hamlet Tibbs: [00:25:51] Absolutely. Definitely. Definitely. Yeah, for sure.
Mike Klinzing: [00:25:54] Sorry. KJ. Talk to me about your path, how you end up here. You’re you’re maybe the only [00:26:00] guy, my understanding that you didn’t have a direct relationship with Dwayne prior to try to get in the job, but more through, more through your network and for working with coach chambers, but just kind of lay it out for me.
KJ Baptiste: [00:26:11] Yeah. So the whole situation with coach TK is it’s funny. I, I haven’t known him personally for a while, but he actually coached one of my really good friends. Dan Adams at Yukon. So I knew about them. I was very interested in the guy. It sounded like made a lot of things. Didn’t want to tell me about them.
Cool. Well, we have the same message given off. All right. Awesome. Down the road, fast forward. The guy, Kevin Freeman was one of my very close mentors, talked to him weekly. He’s very close with DK and when I was at Penn state, He kept telling me, like, just keep grinding and get your head down. And we all work out.
So he kind of gave me a hint again. I want to say mid year, this last year that DK was going to go for this job. The, hopefully the other position you worked something else. And he ended up getting me on the call with DK. I want to say. A week after he was hard gave me a call. We talked for about an hour, just talking about basketball, life, everything going on.
He wanted to, [00:27:00] I would say, fill me out to see how I was as a man. Call it down two, three days later, it gives me a call again and says, listen, I have a position for you. Would you like to take it? And I, I jumped on it in a second. There was no delay. It was a very fast transition. I told them right away.
I was listen. I can leave tomorrow and I can be alone. So it was very fast, very quick. That situation happened and then course chambered actually put their stamp on a call, push chambers. You know, I was as a person off the court and then coach chambers had some good things to say about me, I guess.
And then I I’m here so excited and it’s been great.
Mike Klinzing: [00:27:31] That’s awesome. That’s awesome. And it’s funny how, again, When you think about, you know, people always tell you, you got to build your network and you’ve gotta, you know, you gotta build genuine relationships with people and you never know how those things are gonna, you know, gonna pan out.
And obviously in the coaching profession, you know, it it’s. It’s very close knit. And yet at the same time, I think when you start looking at getting to know people, you never know how one of those relationships is going to either benefit you directly or indirectly. And then conversely, the longer you [00:28:00] go into your career, I think what I’ve found is that I talked to so many coaches who.
You have had something like what happened to you, KJ, where here’s a guy who, you know, somebody vouches for you and then boom, you, you get an opportunity. And then as they advance in their career, you know, you’re going to have an opportunity to do that same thing at some point for somebody that you’ve worked with and to be able to, to be able to help them to advance in their career.
And it’s amazing to me, just how, how open and willing to help. The coaching profession is, and everybody, you know, again, you compete between the lines and then when that game is over, you know, everybody’s kind of have the same, the same idea, the same mentality that, Hey, I’m in this. To help the game of basketball and I’m in this to help the student athletes and the kids that I’m in front of every single day.
And yeah, we’re going to compete our butts off in between the lines, but when it’s over, we’re going to support one another and help. And it’s just, I love hearing those stories of, of guys getting opportunities because of who they are in terms of. The work ethic that they have and the time they [00:29:00] put in and then somebody that they work for is willing to vouch for them and get them to net their next opportunity.
That’s really, that’s really how it works. And it’s just, it’s amazing to kind of see that process play itself out. You know, over and over again because of those relationships. And again, you don’t, those relationships don’t develop unless you’re, unless coach shamers has good things to say about you because you worked hard and you did the things you’re supposed to do.
That just doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen automatically, I guess is what I’m saying. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but those relationships are so important. Dan, you kind of hinted at. Yeah, your relationship with DK and, and getting together with him and knowing, you know, knowing him through family, but just talk about the, the exact process.
When did you get the call from Dwayne and what are those conversations like? And how’s the decision making process go for you leaving UAB?
Dannton Jackson: [00:29:47] You know, I think, I think the big, you know, of course we are, we have a long relationship, so it’s almost like family. But you know, looking back at it, just watching kind of how the things kind of unfolded, you know, I could see [00:30:00] him.
Now now after the fact that he was kind of planning and setting itself up for when he became a head coach. And so that that’s exciting. You know, for me, you know, I know he was up for the job and there was a couple of things going on, so I wasn’t sure, but I got, when I got the call, we, we talked a little about our philosophies was we’ve always talked about you know, during the course of the year, believe it or not, he was sending me practices.
So I’ll evaluate some of his practices. While he was at Marquette. So that was exciting. Just, just the process of it. For me coming to, to you, you know, you Albany and really, really with Dwayne killings, you know, at this stage after coaching for 28, 30 years. And there’s a couple of things that were very important to me.
The first thing wasn’t forced, our core values, you know, there’s a lot, there’s a lot in this business. There’s a lot of different levels in this business. So for me, the biggest thing was making sure that our core values. And if that didn’t happen, then I, to probably wasn’t being a good fit. And so for me, it’s all about the [00:31:00] fit.
It was all about the character and integrity, and I knew exactly what he was about because I got a chance to how it works with his family, how he’s on the recruiting highest culture during the good times of his career is also how he functioned in the bad times, which is really huge on evaluating a man’s care.
The second thing that was very important to me was I believe in it. You know, I believed in DK, I believe in his mission, I believe in what he was doing and from everywhere he’s been coaching. I believe in that the second thing was, you know, I wanted to be part of that. You know, I wanted to be part of that train, that exciting mentality train that gets on it.
We move and to watch a smoking blossom, the staff was very important. And the guys, I really didn’t know. We talked on the phone once we all kind of got the job, but I didn’t really know those guys. So the process of that was very important to me. And I went back to the Wayne’s core iron sharpens on he’s been knowing these guys for a long time.
We’ve been very [00:32:00] connected to these guys. And so I knew when I came aboard, I may have didn’t know tips, but I knew his character because I know iron sharpens iron. And so that made it very comfortable for me. So we get here, it’s exciting. We’re all sitting at the conference room all together, all day long every day for a conference room all day long, every day, because we’re having so much fun.
And that goes back to that character piece, that integrity piece, you know, that is built by our head coach, knowing him, knowing the pieces that he touches and knowing that, you know, the fruit, the flat, his eyes as a spade, the fruit that he bears his fruit. And so that’s kinda my story of how I got here. I got connected with DK and the things that were important to me as, as I came about taking this opportunity.
Mike Klinzing: [00:32:46] Now that you guys are here, give me an idea of what your roles are going to be as they’ve been defined to this point and how you’re going to contribute to the ultimate successful. Tim’s we’ll start with you and then we’ll work our way [00:33:00] around the, around the clock. Again.
Hamlet Tibbs: [00:33:02] For sure. Yeah. I don’t think any of us have been assigned specific roles quite yet.
We still have to meet about that this the summer talk about X’s and O’s and you know, who’s going to be the defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator and all those types of things. But I think for me personally, you know, Coach wants me to be the compass of, of this staff. Having a lot of experience in the league, being in the league for seven years, played in five conference tournament championship out of the seven years.
So I know what it takes to win in this league. And we won two championships, won two championships up there at Vermont with that coaching staff. So I think just providing my experiences that I’ve been through winning in the league and sharing it with these guys, but ultimately coming together as a staff and putting everything together.
To help us reach our [00:34:00] ultimate goal and that’s to win a championship. You know, everybody on the staff has their strengths. We just got to put them all together and make, make them make a mesh and, you know, just try to go out there and compete and do the best.
Mike Klinzing: [00:34:13] Yeah, I think probably each of you guys learning one another’s strengths and no one getting to know who you are.
And building those relationships. And obviously you guys have been spending some time in the door, in the dorm rooms together. And as you said, sitting at the conference table and hanging out. So if not, if not, if nothing else it’s been it’s been it’s forced you to get to know each other and, and force you to really work together here.
Kind of getting off to a start. So KJ talk a little bit about, about your role and how you envision what you’re going to be doing for the program. Moving forward.
KJ Baptiste: [00:34:42] Yeah. So basically I’ve been handling most of the video work, so any breakdowns, a video player, whatever it is. And then managing like our recruiting boards and stuff.
So any recruits we’re recruiting, wherever the situation is, I’ll just make sure we manage DK has list of it all. Everything’s sharp. And then just be an energy guy, just trying to be that [00:35:00] bridge of being with old school, the new school, being able to relate to the guys and just being in that role of being the middleman.
I would say being able to change the message, maybe the message comes from here. I suppose to me, they hair a little bit different because I’m more, I don’t know, but just trying to be that guy. And then I’m always trying to be the guy just, just like which basketball at the end of the day, you guys cannot stress yourselves out.
This is basketball locked in. We walk out to basketball. You know what I mean? So the time that has to be outside of joy,
Mike Klinzing: [00:35:26] There you go. That’s a good, that’s a good roll man. If you can keep that, if you can keep that goal for your career and keep that joy that you’re going to live, you’re going to live a long and healthy and happy coach.
There’s no doubt about it. There’s no doubt about that. All right, Dan, go ahead and share.
Dannton Jackson: [00:35:38] I feel some type of way right now. Cause KJ said he had to bridge the old school to the new school. Yeah.
Mike Klinzing: [00:35:45] Are you pretty sure? He’s, you’re pretty sure he’s considering you to be the old school right there.
Dannton Jackson: [00:35:50] You know, I, I think, you know, we all, as we all get the chance to get to know each other and we’re, we have a new brand new staff, I think for all of us, the biggest thing was, was really to stabilize our [00:36:00] locker room and really manage the relationships and get to know our players, you know? So the first time we stepped here, I think all of our responsibilities was this.
Hey, let’s get to know our guys. Let’s take them out to lunch. Let’s get to know the parents let’s really get to know them. Basketball is one thing, but it get to know him as a person that I think was all of our bigger roles. The second thing we had to do as all of our roles is really to just reach out and touch the campus, you know, reach out and touch the campus and touch the community and get the pulse and just really get to know people.
Connect people together and just, you know, what, what do you need in your department? What do we need? We can work together. I think that’s the biggest thing. When we got on campuses to stabilize the locker room, really stabilize our campus and our relationships on the campus. Of course recruiting has been huge for us.
Because again, that’s part of stabilizing our roster. And so we’ve been, you know, the last three, four weeks we’ve been, I think banging our head against the wall, jumping, doing flips, having great moments in recruiting and having some tough moments and recruiting. But I think having those transparent [00:37:00] conversations, I think that that’s been huge for us.
And then I, and I think that the other thing too is just making sure our kids are where they need academically. So that’s kind of how we’ve been hitting the road running because we really have a lot of, we have players here that have needs and that needs to get to know us and. Versus being engulfed in paperwork, just being able to get out and really touch people.
And that’s one of the things that DK really has talked about, but for all of us, it’s, Hey, I need you to get out and touch somebody, meet somebody that you that you didn’t know yesterday. Who’s losing the influence that can help our program out. Just getting to know our, our, our, our team here, getting to know our, our department, getting to know our university and getting to know the Albany community, because at the end of the day, you know, we are all being.
Mike Klinzing: [00:37:41] Does anybody want to touch on sort of the challenge around trying to do all this with COVID going along? Does anybody want to grab that question? Just talk about how that may, how the process has been different or maybe more challenging underneath the COVID guidelines, as opposed to what it might be if we were, [00:38:00] which hopefully it will be back to at some point, you know, more normal circumstances.
How’s that added to the challenge of getting this thing up and running.
Dannton Jackson: [00:38:09] See guys, my eyes on guys seeing the little small characteristics in their game. And so now we’re thrusted in a situation where we’re watching games on zoom calls which is very different for us. And I think that’s something that definitely has to get back to normal again, because when you talk about managing a program, bringing somebody into your family, you want to make sure that that person.
We know all about that person, that person knows all about us. And it’s, it’s easier when you’re sitting across the table talking to a family, or when you’re in the gym, watching how it comes out of a game or official mates and bad calling all his mannerisms. So I think for me, recruiting wise, in terms of basketball, that’s been, the biggest challenge is trying to evaluate guys on films.
You know, and you got to take the time and watch games. I mean, I’m, I’m an old man. I can make a couple of highlight tapes of me, but I’m trying to make it. But it just taking the time to watch an entire game to pick up on those small things that you would normally [00:39:00] watch while you’re at physically at a game.
Mike Klinzing: [00:39:02] Yeah. That makes total sense.
Hamlet Tibbs: [00:39:05] I agree with coach DT, you know, that piece has been a challenge because ultimately, you know, you want to build your culture of your team and you want to. Have high character kids and people in your program? Well, the best way to get to know the recruits is by having them on campus, having them interact with our players, interact with the coaching staff and you know, you can get feedback from the players on the recruit and what they think about the player, because that’s important too, because, you know, ultimately they gotta be on the same page with the recruit, you know, And they had to like to recruit and they have to have that relationship to get along.
So if they do come in, you know, they are, you know, in line with the standards and expectations of our program.
Mike Klinzing: [00:39:55] Yeah. There’s no doubt about that. All right. Before we wrap up guys, I want to give each one [00:40:00] of you a chance to share how people can connect with you individually, whether you want to share a social media or an email, just anybody who’s listened to the episode that wants to reach out to you.
Maybe just as a question, maybe wants to get to know more about the program or get to know more about you. So let’s start Tim’s with you. And we’ll work our way around to KJ and then Danton and share how people can reach out to you. And then after you guys do that, I’ll jump back in and wrap things up
Hamlet Tibbs: [00:40:26] for sure.
So people can reach out to me. My Twitter is @coachTibbs3 and my Instagram is at coach Tibbs. And then my email, my personal email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Klinzing: [00:40:44] KJ, go ahead.
KJ Baptiste: [00:40:45] Yes, people can reach me. My Instagram is K bap, bap 42, and then my Twitter is @KBaptiste11. And then my email would be K S [00:41:00] email@example.com.
Dannton Jackson: [00:41:02] And you can reach me dance and Jackson on Twitter at @DanntonJ. And my email here is DJackson2@albany.edu,
Mike Klinzing: [00:41:12] I cannot thank you guys enough for taking the time out of your schedule to jump on with me today. I know that as this next year kind of unfolds that hopefully we’ll get an opportunity to have you guys back on and touch base with you as we go through the remainder of what’s going to be I’m sure for all of you and exciting and successful year season, however you want to phrase it.
I am so indebted to both coach killings and all of you guys for opening up your world to me and to us here on the op-eds pod and to our audience. I think it’s just going to provide such a, an inside look and so much value to coaches who are out there, who are. Trying to take the same journey that you guys have taken in your career, and maybe they’re looking to advance their next job, or maybe they’re just looking to improve themselves as a coach.
And [00:42:00] we’re open to give people just a window into what you guys experience day in, day out and trying to put together a successful program and hopefully fans that. Of the university at Albany will we’ll jump on board and be listed, especially as you, especially as we start playing some games and people get excited about actually watching that happen.
So fellows, I cannot thank you enough for joining us today and to everyone out there, we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.