Williamson hired as assistant at Arkansas Baptist College
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Corliss Williamson considers himself lucky -- from Nolan Richardson to Larry Brown, he's played for some pretty accomplished coaches.
Now he's ready to try his own hand at that profession.
"I want to be able to give back to the game," Williamson said.
Williamson announced his retirement Wednesday after 12 seasons in the NBA -- and was introduced as a new assistant coach at Arkansas Baptist College. The move is a return home for Williamson, who was born in Russellville and led Richardson's Arkansas Razorbacks to the national championship in 1994.
Williamson was drafted by Sacramento in 1995 -- and also finished his career with the Kings. He averaged 9.1 points in 68 games last season. Williamson's pro career also included stops in Toronto, Detroit and Philadelphia.
Not quite big enough to be the dominant post player he was in college, Williamson averaged 11.1 points per game as an NBA player. He won the league's sixth man award for Detroit in 2002, and was on the Pistons' NBA championship team of 2004 with Brown as coach.
"That's the ultimate of any professional basketball player's career, is to win an NBA championship. I did that in Detroit, and I think that was probably my favorite team playing with," Williamson said. "But the city I enjoy the most is Sacramento, by far. It was my hometown in the NBA, and I was able to finish my career there."
Williamson's announcement came at a news conference at the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Museum. Some family members were in the audience, and so was Scotty Thurman, another member of the '94 Razorbacks.
Don Daily, Williamson's high school coach at Russellville, was also there.
"He's done so much for basketball, in Russellville and the state," Daily said.
Williamson has come home often during his pro career. He said he contemplated retirement for the last two years, and since he was no longer under contract after last season, this was an easy time to step away.
"I'm getting the opportunity to start a new dream, which is to become a head coach someday," he said.
Arkansas Baptist is happy to have him. The school revamped its athletic department recently, starting a junior college football program this year. School President Fitz Hill spoke at the news conference, and so did Charles Ripley, the athletic director and basketball coach.
"From a basketball standpoint and a character standpoint, this just lifts us up to another level," Ripley said.
Williamson was the most outstanding player of the 1994 NCAA tournament and led the Razorbacks to the title game in 1995 as well. UCLA denied Arkansas' bid for a repeat championship.
Richardson said he's followed Williamson's NBA career, but he wasn't aware of his former player's decision to pursue coaching. He sounded excited when told about it.
"That's great," Richardson said when reached by phone. "I'm very proud that he wants to go into the coaching profession. ... I think he'll be one of the better ones."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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