Former NBA great Gary Payton will coach the first-ever basketball team at Lincoln University in his hometown of Oakland, Calif.
Lincoln, founded in 1919, is launching its athletic program in 2021 and will compete in football, as well as men’s and women’s basketball.
“Lincoln University has made a commitment to building a world class athletic department and hiring Gary Payton is an example of our strong
effort towards this growth,” Dr. Mikhail Brodsky, the campus president, said in a news release.
The school’s associate athletic director, Scott Scherer, called Payton “the perfect person to put LU Athletics on the map.”
Payton, 52, played at Skyline High School in Oakland before an All-American career at Oregon State from 1986-90. The Seattle SuperSonics selected the point guard with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft.
“I am fired up about this opportunity to coach at the college level and make a major impact on the basketball scene in my hometown of Oakland,” he said. “This is a dream come true for me to build a program with my stamp on it from the start. We are starting a tradition of high standards that can last lifetimes.”
Payton has big dreams for the small school, which has about 500 undergraduate and graduate students, according to the College Board. It offers degrees in business and medical imaging.
Athletic director and head football coach Desmond Gumbs told The Undefeated that two Division I schools already are on the basketball schedule for this fall.
Payton played most of his career with the SuperSonics (1990-03), but also had short stints with the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. He won the NBA championship with the Heat in 2006.
Nine times, he was named to both the All-Star and NBA all-defensive teams and was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1996. He retired with career averages of 16.3 points, 6.7 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game and was enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.