NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana, an educator of future college head coaches for nearly 70 years, added another to its list Wednesday when Harris-Stowe State University hired Alfred Williams to lead its men’s basketball program.
Williams, 31, was a Xavier men’s basketball assistant coach the past six seasons (2009-15) and served a vital role in one of the most successful periods in Gold Rush history. Williams also played three seasons for the Gold Rush (2004-05, 2006-07 and 2007-08).
Harris-Stowe is in St. Louis and a member of the NAIA Division I American Midwest Conference. Like Xavier, it is a historically black university.
“I am definitely looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge,” said Williams, whose final day at Xavier was June 22. “I have spent 10 years (at Xavier) with coach (Dannton) Jackson. I have seen just about everything I could see and learn from him. The amount of preparation we did with coach Jackson will help me at Harris-Stowe. I give thanks to the Xavier family for all the support I got here.”
Williams succeeds Phillip Hunt, who coached the Hornets for six seasons. Harris-Stowe was 6-24 overall this past season and 5-17 (tied for 10th place) in the American Midwest.
“I’m going to take what I learned here at Xavier and take it to Harris-Stowe with a new energy, a new mentality,” Williams said. “We’ll be working hard at it every day.”
During Williams’ tenure as an assistant coach, the Gold Rush were 139-55 with three consecutive Gulf Coast Athletic Conference regular-season championships (2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14) and a school-record five consecutive appearances at the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I National Championship (2011-15). Xavier’s 121 victories from 2010-11 through 2014-15 are the second-winningest five years in the program history, topped only by the Gold Rush’s 126 victories from 1936-37 through 1940-41.
“I am proud of Alfred,” said Jackson, who has a Gold Rush-record 273 victories in 12 seasons. “Harris-Stowe is getting a very good basketball coach and a very good young man who will care for the university and take care of their student-athletes. From a leadership standpoint, he is prepared.”
As a 6-foot-4 forward he averaged 8.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in 97 career games and helped Xavier earn a share of the 2006-07 GCAC regular-season championship and qualify for the NAIA national tourney in 2005, 2007 and 2008. He was All-GCAC his senior year when he averaged 11.4 points and a team-leading seven rebounds per game.
Williams is one of three Gold Rush players with 800 points, 500 rebounds and 150 assists in a career. Williams shot 41.1 percent from 3-point range in his career to rank fourth in Xavier history. His blocked shot and ensuing tiebreaking basket with seven seconds remaining lifted Xavier to an 82-79 victory over third-seeded Georgetown (Ky.) in the opening round of the 2007 NAIA nationals at Kansas City, Mo. — the first opening-round victory for the Rush since 1973.
After receiving his bachelor of science degree from Xavier in 2008 and before returning to the university, Williams worked in his native Greenville, S.C., with his brother Eric for Fundamentals 4 Success, a non-profit community agency which offers educational, personal and athletic assistance to basketball student-athletes.
Another brother, Shammond Williams, is the University of North Carolina’s career leader in 3-point field goals made and is second in career free-throw percentage. Shammond played 13 years professionally — seven in the NBA — and coaches college basketball in New Orleans, too. Shammond in 2014-15 completed his second season as an assistant at Tulane.
Xavier was 24-10 in 2014-15, finished second in the GCAC regular season and tournament and ranked 21st in the postseason poll. The Gold Rush have the NAIA’s longest active streak of top-25 appearances, 50.
Xavier hopes to replace Williams as soon as possible. “There are enormous shoes to be filled here,” Jackson said, “but we are really happy for Alfred.”
Xavier’s legacy of educating head coaches dates to the 1940s, when Leonidas Epps joined Clark College of Atlanta and eventually won SIAC men’s championships in football, basketball, golf and track and field. Other college head coaches Xavier produced include Marino Casem, Doug Porter and Otis Washington — all football hall-of-famers — and Jackson, Dale Valdery and Bernard Griffith in basketball. Former Jackson players now coaching include Landon Bussie at Prairie View A&M (women’s basketball assistant) and Shaun Dumas (boys basketball head coach) at Crescent City Christian High School in Metairie, La. Ryan DeRousselle, Nick Haywood and Devin Andrew were Gold Rush assistants this past season. In addition, John Ashaolu is director of athletics and student programs at Community College of Beaver County in Monaca, Pa.
XU assistants under Jackson still coaching include Kim Lewis, entering his fifth season as an assistant at the University of Richmond, and Jason Flanigan, entering his 11th season as head coach at Holmes Community College in Goodman, Miss.
Courtesy: XULA Athletics