NEW ORLEANS — Donald Reyes is fresh off a Southland Conference Championship at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, where he served as Director of Basketball Operations.

In his one season with the Islanders, Reyes oversaw day-to-day operations and player development.

“We had a great turnaround. We went from 5 wins in the previous years to 23. So, it was one of the biggest in the country,” says Loyola head basketball coach Donald Reyes.

That turnaround and 15 years of Division I college basketball experience made him an attractive candidate for Loyola’s head coaching search.

In return, the vacancy was desirable for someone who grew up here in the city of New Orleans.

“That was always my dream to be a head coach at a university as close to home as possible. I’ve got to do some math on a google map, but I don’t this it gets any closer than this,” says Reyes.

Donald Reyes is a 2005 graduate of John Ehret High School.

A good chunk of his basketball journey was spent as an assistant at Tulane University, where he had the chance to build a relationship with mentor and Loyola athletic director Brett Simpson and other key figures of the Wolfpack’s 2021-22 national championship run.

“I have a little history over at Loyola. I worked at Tulane for 7 years under 2 different head coaches. I’ve always been in close touch with coach Stacy Hollowell and the entire program. All the assistants and all the great players that have come through there. I kind of grew up playing against Ryan Brock. He’s one of the most touted alumni over there. So between him and Tyler Nielson, the former assistant, and the current assistant, Javan Felix, I have a really good relationship with those guys,” says Reyes.

Those relationships helped Donald Reyes become Loyola’s 4th head basketball coach in the last 30 years.

He is also the program’s first African American head coach.

Reyes officially starts Sunday, but the reality of his new position has already set in since the announcement was made earlier this month.

“In my eyes, it kind of started when I jumped up at 2 a.m. the other night and was like, okay it’s real. The brain started running. I’ve known here for a little bit now but for it to actually set in and for my brain to start running was actually something special,” says Reyes.

Reyes says that the Pack will return 5 key members of the rotation, 10 total players, and the assistant coaching staff from last year’s national championship team.

“In regards to change, from a strength and conditioning standpoint and to a staffing standpoint, I don’t see much changing. I like what’s kind of going on there and what’s been implemented thus far. In regards to the team, obviously getting more student-athletes in. We do have some depth to build and surround the current team with. So, that’s what I’ll kind of be doing here over the next month in a half as we make our way to August to make sure that we hit the ground running when we get there,” says Reyes.

For Loyola’s official announcement, click here.