Alabama State hires former CSUN Assistant coach, and former NBA All-Star Mo Williams to take over the basketball program, replacing long-standing coach Louis Jackson. Williams looks to change the face of the Hornets, and return the Hornets to contention in SWAC Basketball.
The Alabama State Hornets 2019-2020 basketball season wasn’t the best of times for fans and supporters of the program. The squad finished with an anemic 7-11 SWAC Basketball conference record and an 8-24 overall record for the year. Long-time head coach Louis Jackson, one of the best players in the history of Bama State basketball, stepped down as head coach of the program on March 27th of this year. Alabama State athletics ended their head coaching search today by hiring one of the most recognizable names in Alabama college basketball lore.
Mo Williams earned national recognition for his play with the Alabama Crimson Tide under then-head coach Mark Gottfried, earning both SEC and National Freshman of the Year honors in 2002. Prior to that, he was one of the most sought after high school recruits in the country coming out of his home state of Mississippi. Williams translated that into a long NBA career, spanning 13 years and averaging 13.2 points and 5 assists per game for its duration.
He reunited with Gottfried for his two-year stint with the Matadors as an assistant coach. Anybody that’s followed Williams’s career on the court knows a few things to be true; He had an instinct for putting the ball through the hoop, and he had an extremely high basketball IQ.
Those traits came with him to his coaching career, becoming part of a staff that helped the CSUN Matadors to break team records in both offensive and defensive categories, substantially raising their profile in the Big West. Coach Williams is going to have to draw on that experience to transform a Bama State team into a conference contender on both ends of the floor. He does have the benefit of arguably the best basketball facilities in the SWAC, with the Dunn-Oliver Acadome and the multi-million dollar Houston Markham Athletic Complex to showcase for recruiting. It’s going to be interesting to see how Coach Williams fills his staff out because recruiting in this conference, like other mid-majors, takes on an elevated level of importance.
Coach Williams’ college and NBA pedigree as a player could very well go far in turning the fortunes of the Hornets basketball program around. The talent in the region is definitely there, with in-state basketball hubs in Mobile, Birmingham, and Montgomery producing mid-to-high level division I talent on a regular basis.
Coach Williams will also have the opportunity to put his Mississippi high school pedigree and reputation forward in building the program, with that state also being a hotbed for prep and JuCo basketball. Finally, Williams follows a growing trend of former collegiate players getting the chance to guide their own programs in their first forays into collegiate head coaching.
HBCU conferences like the SWAC and MEAC are benefitting from the trend, with former Maryland legend Juan Dixon and Duke University Alum Kenny Blakeney finding homes at Coppin State, and Howard University respectively.
Coach Williams will have an opportunity to leave his mark on the Southwestern Athletic Conference as well.