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West Chester announces Khalif Wyatt as men's basketball assistant

07/22/2022, 10:15am EDT
By Owen McCue

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

Khalif Wyatt walked into Jefferson University for Philly Live this past June and spotted a familiar face.

It was Colgate head coach Matt Langel, who recruited Wyatt to Temple out of Norristown High School back in 2009. 

The two chatted then made their way to the gym where the next person they ran into was Wyatt’s former Temple head coach Fran Dunphy, now the head man at La Salle.

On his first time out recruiting, Wyatt stood next to two of his former mentors as a peers for the first time.

Wyatt, a former standout at Norristown and Temple before a nine-year professional career, began his coaching career as an assistant at West Chester earlier this summer and was officially announced as part of Damien Blair’s staff with Golden Rams on Thursday.

“First and foremost at West Chester I’m looking to learn under Coach Blair. He’s been at West Chester for more than 10 years now, so I’m looking to learn as much as I can,” Wyatt said. “And two, I’m looking to help the kids.

West Chester announced Khalif Wyatt, above, as an assistant coach on Thursday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

“It’s not everyday that a 10-year pro with all the experience that I have playing basketball and just being in their shoes, it’s not everyday that you have one of those guys in your locker room everyday. It will be up to me to let the kids know to use me up, use me as much as possible, ask me questions, get in the gym with me, watch as much film with me and just get better.”

Wyatt, the Atlantic 10 and Big 5 Player of the Year during his senior year at Temple in 2013, played professionally in China, Israel, the Philippines, France and Romania over nine seasons. On March 23, his daughter was born and he decided to retire.

About two weeks later his path toward coaching began.

Wyatt crossed paths with Golden Rams assistant Ben Kay at the Donofrio Classic in April, and Kay told him there might be a job for him at West Chester this upcoming season. Then came a meeting with Blair followed by a meeting with Athletic Director Terry Beattie and after approval by the state Wyatt’s position became official on Thursday.

Wyatt joins Blair’s staff that already includes Kay, Eric Anderson and Joe Suarez. West Chester went 17-12 last season with three of its top four scorers returning from their freshman seasons.

“I’m super excited to be a part of West Chester’s staff,” Wyatt said. “I thank Coach Blair for giving me the opportunity and everyone should be looking out for West Chester basketball this year because I believe we’re going to be really good.”

Wyatt’s foray into coaching began with camps and clinics in the summers when he returned from playing Temple and overseas. He started coaching with his brother’s AAU program, Pro Youth, in 2017 where the transition from ‘Leaf Buckets’ to ‘Coach Leaf’ began.

Wyatt said some kids today still recognize him or have heard of his past accolades, but if he needs to remind them of his credentials, he has a plan.

“I’ll be interested to see how much they know and if I have to bring up some YouTube clips or something like that,” he said.

Before his stardom at Temple, Wyatt said Norristown assistant coach Rodney Westcott and his AAU coach Julius Mack were two influential figures in his life. When he got to Temple, Dunphy became another, teaching him both on and off the court.

He hopes to be a similar figure in players’ lives as he begins his coaching career.

“I’m not that man that I am today without those guys, so that’s the role that I look to play in a lot of these guys lives,” Wyatt said.

Wyatt has plenty of people in his corner as he begins his new venture. Over the years, Wyatt, a fan favorite, has built up plenty of what he calls ‘social equity’ through his relationships in the basketball community.

Upon the news of his hiring at West Chester, Wyatt said some of the most exciting congratulations he received were from his former Temple coaches Langel, Dunphy and Dwayne Killings (Albany) and former Penn head coach and current Detroit Pistons assistant Jerome ‘Pooh’ Allen.

As a coach, he plans to continue to help players like they and so many more helped him.

“I knew that I knew the game and I have fun teaching it,” Wyatt said. “Initially it was just camps and clinics and just getting in front of as many kids as I could and telling them the way I see the game. From there, coaching is just another way of first of all helping a lot of kids. I plan on helping a lot of kids and people in general from now until the end of my coaching career. I’m just taking it one day at a time and having fun teaching, learning and growing as a coach.”

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