Kent  Williams

Kent Williams

Assistant Coach

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Kent Williams followed Cuonzo Martin to Tennessee in April 2011 after working as an assistant under Martin for three seasons at Missouri State. Williams now enters his third season with the Volunteers and his sixth under Martin.

An elite scorer during his collegiate playing days, Williams has helped Tennessee's guards become efficient shooters and savvy all-around scorers the past two seasons.

In particular, wings Jordan McRae and Josh Richardson have shown tremendous development under Williams' tutelage.

"All you need to do to understand the value of having coach Williams on staff is look at the development of Jordan McRae and Josh Richardson," Martin said. "Coach Williams has worked closely with those guys for two years now. Jordan is one of the top returning scorers in all of college basketball, and Josh - in addition to be becoming a more complete offensive threat - is going to be a candidate for SEC Defensive Player of the Year."

McRae's scoring average increased from 1.8 points per game before Williams' arrival at Tennessee to 8.6 ppg in 2012. McRae then exploded as a junior, finishing as the SEC's third-leading scorer in league play with 19.2 ppg.

McRae's rebounding and assists averages - as well as his field-goal and 3-point shooting percentages - also have increased in each of his seasons working with Williams.

National college basketball experts Jay Bilas, Seth Davis and Jimmy Dykes each picked McRae as their 2013 SEC Player of the Year. McRae was a 2013 first-team All-SEC selection, and he was also named UT's Male Student-Athlete of the Year.

Richardson, meanwhile, went from a 2.9 ppg scoring average as a freshman in 2012 to a 7.9 ppg average as a sophomore - starting all 33 games for the Vols. He led the team in steals, ranked second in rebounding and minutes and was third in assists, blocks and field-goal percentage (improving from .353 in 2012 to .469 in 2013).

After Richardson shot 55 percent from the foul line in pre-conference play during the 2012-13 campaign, he worked closely with Williams on his mechanics and went on to shoot 80 percent from the free-throw line in SEC games.

"Coach Williams is a really good teacher," former UT guard Skylar McBee said. "He played at a really high level and knows his X's and O's. He spends a lot of time with us on the court and off the court, watching film and breaking things down.

"He always finds ways of helping you understand a concept so that you can apply it to your own game."

McBee finished his Tennessee career in 2013 ranked 10th on the program's all-time list for 3-pointers made (161). More than 70 percent of those makes came during his two seasons working with Williams.

During Williams' three-year tenure as an assistant in Springfield, Mo., he helped the Bears average more than 20 wins per season, earn a pair of postseason berths and capture the program's first-ever Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship in 2010-11.

MSU improved from 11 wins in the 2008-09 campaign to a 24-12 record and the postseason tournament title in 2009-10. The Bears' 69.8 points per game led the MVC that year, and their 19 home wins tied Kansas for the most among Division I programs.

"Kent Williams is the second-leading scorer in Southern Illinois history," Martin said. "He knows how to score, how to get shots off, how to come off screens, how to read screens. He's another guy who our players can really relate with and learn from."

Williams' input from the bench was instrumental in MSU's stellar 2010-11 MVC championship run and subsequent NIT berth. Missouri State advanced to its conference tournament title game, ranked seventh nationally in turnovers per game (10.3) and led the MVC in 3-point shooting (.376) and assist/turnover ratio (1.28).

Adam Leonard, one of Williams' disciples at Missouri State, set the MSU record for 3-pointers made in a season (103) and finished his eligibility ranked 27th on the NCAA's all-time list for 3-pointers made in a career.

Another of Williams' standouts at Missouri State, Kyle Weems, increased his scoring average every year the two worked together (10.2 ppg to 13.6 ppg to 16.0 ppg). In Weems' third season learning from Williams, Weems was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year.

Weems finished his MSU career as the program's second all-time leading scorer, had the most double-digit scoring games in school history (110 of 134 games played) and was MSU's fourth all-time leading rebounder.

A native of Mt. Vernon, Ill., Williams graduated from Southern Illinois University in 2003 after an outstanding four-year playing career under head coach Bruce Weber (Matt Painter was an assistant coach). Williams' 2,012 points at SIU from 2000-03 make him the Salukis' second-leading all-time scorer, and he finished his career ranked 13th on the Missouri Valley Conference all-time scoring chart.

He earned first-team All-MVC honors in each of his last two seasons at SIU after collecting second-team honors as a sophomore. He was the MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2002 and 2003 and the MVC Freshman of the Year and Newcomer of the Year in 2000. Williams also was one of 50 players named to the MVC All-Centennial team, which was announced in 2007.

He is the only player in SIU history to lead the team in scoring four straight years, helping his team to the NCAA Tournament in 2002 and 2003, including a run to the 2002 NCAA Sweet Sixteen.

Following his graduation from SIU, Williams spent one season playing in the NBA D-League, leading the league in 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage.

He spent one year working for TEKsystems in St. Louis before joining Purdue's basketball staff as supervisor of basketball operations in 2005.

Williams was selected by Athletes in Action to serve as head coach for a team of Division I All-Stars during the summer of 2010 on a tour of Poland. That squad finished the tour undefeated.

By age 28, Williams had already been enshrined in three different halls of fame: Mt. Vernon Township High School Sports Hall of Fame (2005); Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame (2006); Southern Illinois University Department of Athletics Hall of Fame (2010). And in December 2013, he was named to the 25-man SIU All-Century Men's Basketball Team.

Williams is the career scoring leader at Mt. Vernon Township High School.

He and his wife, Jessica, have a daughter, Kennedy, who was born on Christmas day 2009, and a son, Hudson, who was born in June 2012.

Coach Williams



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