Full of pride, Tamar Slay returns to Marshall in new role as assistant coach

— by Taylor Kennedy

Marshall’s men’s basketball staff recently added of one of the program’s most impactful players in Tamar Slay.

Slay, who replaces Scott Rigot as an assistant coach, will primarily lead skill development with Herd players.

A four-year letterman for the Herd from 1998-2002, Slay brings basketball knowledge obtained since his playing days as a high school star for the Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles.

The 54th pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, Slay is eager to get going in his new role.

“I have a lot of pride in Marshall,” Slay said. “I wore the green and white, and to have the opportunity to be back here and help out the program is a tremendous honor as far as moving up the ranks.

“God opened a door for me, and I needed to take a peek inside to see if this is where my next chapter in life will be. Having the opportunity to do it in my home state with the coaching staff, who are all southern West Virginia guys, you couldn’t write a better script.”

D’Antoni and Slay frequently talked while Slay was in North Carolina coaching high school basketball. Slay believes the communication and bond between the two ultimately led him back to Huntington.

“We’ve always kept in touch,” Slay stated. “We have always joked around about what if I had an interest in coaching college basketball, and I always left the door open. Dan sent me a text message asking if I was interested. I could tell this was a serious text message. I showed it to my wife, and we knew we had to make a decision. He let me know what was going on at Marshall and that he would like for me to join the staff. I prayed on it, and now I’m here.”

Former Beckley and Marshall standout Tamar Slay.

Slay remains in the top 10 in Marshall scoring history with 1,792 career points. Slay also held the record for 3-pointers at MU with 251 before Austin Loop broke that in 2017.

Slay went on to play three seasons in the NBA, first for the New Jersey Nets and later the Charlotte Bobcats. After his NBA career concluded, Slay played eight seasons in Europe, including seven in Italy.

His career was enshrined in the Marshall Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. Slay knows that the same time and energy put in as a player will be applied now as a coach.

“The same pride I played with is the same pride I’m going to coach with even though I wasn’t coaching here over the last 20 years,” Slay said. “This is a second home to me. This job goes back to being a West Virginia guy. When I walk out on the floor, I have a sense of pride for this school and basketball team. Every day when I wake up and come to work, I will work with that same intensity and passion that I did as a player. It’s a blessing to be able to coach at a school where I played at.”

Slay noticed differences at the Cam Henderson Center upon his return to Huntington.

“I like the upgrades that have taken place since I was here 20 years ago,” Slay noted. “They have done a few upgrades to the court and other things like that. I wouldn’t say it feels smaller because I played in the NBA and overseas in Europe. The gyms in Europe are not the size of the Cam Henderson Center. It feels a little bigger.. To see all the seats and the size of the court is not something I have grown accustomed to seeing in the last 15 years.”

Before joining the Thundering Herd, Slay was the head of Tamar Slay Basketball Enterprise, established in 2014. He trained and educated basketball players in camps and events. The company will now continue operating under new management as Slay embarks on this new journey.

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