Free Byrd: Cubs assistant back at Purdue

The chance to return to his alma mater proved too enticing for D.J. Byrd to pass up.

Byrd, an assistant boys basketball coach at Franklin Community High School the past two seasons, has been hired to be part of coach Matt Painter’s staff at Purdue University.

The North Montgomery graduate is back in West Lafayette as one of two graduate assistants on the Boilermakers’ staff for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.

Byrd, 26, is on campus to help assist Purdue players in offseason workouts. In the fall, he begins work on his masters degree. He graduated from Purdue in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and supervision.

“Coach Painter called me at the end of May and offered me one of the graduate assistant positions, and I said, ‘Absolutely,’” Byrd said. “Purdue had never really had that position before, so I was surprised.

“It’s a chance to be able to work and learn in different areas at a Division I program. It’s been an awesome experience so far.”

Byrd will be working summer basketball camps, helping with recruiting and using his experience as a former Boilermaker player to assist in any way possible.

A 6-foot-5 swingman from 2009-13, Byrd scored 890 points during his career. Following his junior season, he was the first Purdue player to be voted Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year.

Byrd finished his college basketball career ranked sixth on the Boilers’ all-time 3-pointers list with 195 and 10th in games played with 130. He played one season of professional basketball in Germany and a second in Canada before focusing on coaching.

Byrd originally joined head coach Brad Dickey’s staff at Franklin to be a varsity assistant. He coached the Grizzly Cubs’ junior varsity squads for both seasons.

“Coach Dickey was very helpful in terms of player development. I really learned a lot from him,” Byrd said. “Working at Franklin was a great experience for me.”

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Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.