After serving three seasons as Kentucky State’s assistant men’s basketball coach, Darnell Williams was announced as the head coach of the men’s basketball program on Monday.
“It’s my opinion that we are very fortunate to have a young man of Darnell’s caliber available to lead our team on its trek to respectability,” said Dr. William K. Head, Kentucky State’s director of athletics. “He obviously comes from good beginnings and hopefully will give our athletes the strength of character to persevere.”
Upon receiving the appointment, Williams noted that he is grateful to be able to take over a program with such a rich tradition, one that includes three consecutive national championships from 1970-1972.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Williams. “It’s great to be able to take over a program that has had such a great and successful history. We’re going to try to get the program back to where it was.”
Williams joined Kentucky State prior to the 2012-2013 season, serving as an assistant for three seasons under former head coach Antwain Banks. Williams has helped guide the Thorobreds to winning seasons in two of his three years on the staff, with the team posting a 15-12 overall record and a 11-6 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record in his first season, followed by a 15-14 overall campaign and a 10-7 conference mark in 2013-2014. Additionally, the Thorobreds went on a deep SIAC Tournament run in 2014 before falling to eventual champion Tuskegee in the conference semifinal.
Though Kentucky State struggled to a 9-18 record last season, Williams believes the pieces are in place for a successful run if he can instill a strong work ethic within the group.
“I’m very optimistic,” Williams added. “We’ve got a young team, and we’re a little undersized. We’re going to have to work hard, but I think we’re going to be the better conditioned team. My goal is for this to be not only one of the most well-conditioned teams, but one of the most disciplined teams, both offensively and defensively.”
Williams brings an extensive basketball background to Kentucky State, having played at some of the highest levels of competition. He played collegiately at Xavier, where he earned All-Atlantic 10 honors, was named an Honorable Mention All-American, and became a member of the school’s 1,000-point club. After graduating from Xavier, Williams received a tryout with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, and he played professionally, both in the U.S. and overseas through 2005.
As for his coaching philosophy, Williams hopes to play similarly to the successful Xavier teams he was a part of from 1995-1999.
“Defensively, we want to play a lot of man-to-man, pressure full court, run and trap,” Williams said. “We want to be a lot like Virginia Commonwealth now or like the old Xavier teams when I played there back in the 90s. Offensively, we want to push the tempo, make them miss, push the ball, and try to get something easy in transition. You’ll see a lot of motion from us, a lot of ball screens.”
Williams joined the staff at Kentucky State after several years of coaching experience in the Cincinnati Public School System and on the AAU circuit.
He also received a master’s degree in sports management from Columbia Southern University in 2009, and he and his wife Brigitte reside in Frankfort, Ky. with their daughter Dorien, son Cameron, and grandson Cameron Jr.
Photo Courtesy Kentucky State Athletics