Southern Miss men’s basketball head coach Jay Ladner announced the additions of Juan Cardona and Nick Williams to his staff.
“I am very excited that Juan [Cardona] and Nick [Williams] have joined our staff,” Ladner said. “They both bring a passion for working with young men and have hit the ground running in putting together this year’s recruiting class. They are great teachers of the game as well and both have an incredibly bright future ahead of them in their professional careers.”
Cardona joins the Golden Eagle staff after spending two seasons at Mercer. In his first year with the Bears, Mercer won 17 games and finished fourth in the Southern Conference. A six-game winning streak early in 2020 helped the Bears garner National Association of Basketball Coaches Team of the Week honors. Cardona then helped the Bears to 18 wins in his second season and a run to the Southern Conference title game where it fell to top-seeded UNC-Greensboro.
“I am blessed and grateful to be here working for coach Ladner and I’m excited to join the Southern Miss family,” Cardona said.
The Vega Baja, Puerto Rico native also spent time as the head coach at Miami Christian High School where he led the program to a pair of 2A FHSAA state titles and a No. 1 ranking in the state of Florida during the 2017 season. Cardona also patrolled the sideline with the Miami Tropics AAU program alongside his mentor, Art Alvarez. He has served as the head coach for seven different professional organizations in Puerto Rico, including a stint with Caciques de Humacao.
Cardona led the Puerto Rican U-17 National Team to a gold medal at the Centrobasket Tournament in 2007. His coaching career started in 2998 when he was named head coach at Lino Padron High School in Vega Baja.
Williams comes to Hattiesburg after spending three seasons at Northwest Mississippi Community College alongside head coach Shane Oakley. The former Alabama High School Player of the Year helped guide the Rangers to 42 wins during his time in Senatobia.
“I’m excited and honored to be joining coach Ladner’s staff at Southern Miss,” Williams said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity be a part of such a great university with a rich tradition in academics and athletics. This is a dream come true. SMTTT!”
The former Ole Miss standout spent two years (2017-19) at his alma mater as a graduate assistant under Andy Kennedy and Kermit Davis. Following a short professional career in Brazil and Canada, Williams coached high school basketball at Mattie T. Blount and LeFlore High School. The former 6-foot-4 guard spent his freshman season at Indiana before finishing his collegiate career at Ole Miss.
Williams helped the Rebels rack up 70 wins in his three seasons and three-straight postseason trips that included an NCAA Tournament berth and an SEC Tournament title. Coming out of LeFlore Prep Academy, Williams was ranked the No. 30 shooting guard in the country by ESPN.com.