Kent Williams (left) and Jon Harris
April 5, 2011
"I'm excited about the coaching staff we've put in place," Martin said. "These are honest, hard-working guys with a passion for the game of basketball. They're all excellent at coaching on the floor, recruiting, scouting, teaching and developing young players.
"This staff is full of guys who have been high-level players at the Division I level. So we know what it takes to not only perform at your best on the court, but also manage the demands of being a student-athlete."
Webster spent this past season as an assistant coach at Nebraska and also has assistant coaching experience at Ball State (2001-03), Purdue (2003-04), Illinois (2004-07) and Kentucky (2007-09).
He served a brief stint as interim head coach at DePaul during the 2009-10 season, and he helped lead the 2005 Illinois team--which featured five future NBA players, including All-Star Deron Williams--to a 37-2 record, the Final Four and a national runner-up finish.
Harris and Williams both were assistants on Martin's staff at Missouri State the past three seasons. That partnership yielded extraordinary results as the Bears averaged more than 20 wins per season, earned a pair of postseason berths and captured 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 CollegeInsider.com 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.
Harris and Williams' leadership 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).
All three additions to the Tennessee basketball family are former Division I college basketball standouts.
Webster hails from the Chicagoland area (Harvey, Ill.) and has been ranked among the best point guards in the Chicago area's prep history by the Chicago Sun-Times. He was a three-time All-Big Ten selection during his collegiate career at Wisconsin (1991-94) under Steve Yoder and Stu Jackson.
A three-time captain for the Badgers, Webster set single-season school records for assists (179 in 1992-93) and 3-point percentage (.490 in 1991-92).
"Tracy Webster was a great point guard," Martin said. "He has a great understanding and a great feel for how to play the game. He'll be a great teacher for our guards, because he was a really complete basketball player and he has a great mind for the game.
"He also adds great experience coaching in the SEC, Big Ten and Big East."
A native of Edwardsville, Ill., Harris was a two-year captain during his playing days at Marquette under head coach Tom Crean. Harris finished his career ranked 20th on Conference USA's all-time rebounding list (494). He made 22 starts and shot 53 percent from the floor during his career, which culminated in a 2002 NCAA Tournament berth after he and teammate Dwyane Wade helped lead the Golden Eagles to a 26-7 record and No. 9 ranking in the Associated Press national poll.
Harris' first taste of college coaching came at his alma mater the following season. It proved to be quite an initiation into the profession, as the Golden Eagles powered their way to a 27-6 record and a run to the Final Four. From there, Harris transitioned to a five-year stint as a full-time assistant coach at Wisconsin-Green Bay.
"Jon Harris played at Marquette with one of the greatest players in the game in Dwyane Wade, so Jon really knows what it takes to be a great role player," Martin said. "And because of his effectiveness as a communicator, he can really help our guys understand and accept their roles--what does it take to be a great rebounder, a great post defender, to play with passion, energy and toughness around the basket? Those are things he can teach."
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) that included a pair of NCAA Tournament berths and a run to the 2002 Sweet Sixteen. Williams' 2,012 points at SIU from 2000-03 make him the Salukis' second-leading all-time scorer, and he ranks 13th on the Missouri Valley Conference career 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.
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.
"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."
Harris and Williams are currently in Knoxville, assisting Martin with individual workouts for the current Tennessee team members. Webster has yet to join the staff in Knoxville, but he, along with Martin and Harris, is expected to hit the road recruiting for the Vols later this week.