Former NBA Champion Mo Williams To Coach JSU Basketball | Tigers Now Have Deion Sanders, One of LeBron James’ Former Teammates

(Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

The Jackson State Tigers have become known for splashy hires as of late. In 2020, they hired Pro Football Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl champion Deion Sanders. On Friday, JSU athletics director Ashley Robinson added another champion to his coaching arsenal.

The Tigers reached an agreement with former NBA player and 2016 NBA champion with the Cleveland Cavaliers Mo Williams to become their new head men’s basketball coach. Williams is a Jackson, Mississippi, native like his new boss Robinson, so it’s a homecoming for the former Alabama State Hornets head coach. In fact, both attended Murrah High School. Williams will replace head coach Wayne Brent, who retired following the season.

Williams Was The Prime Target From The Jump

Although he didn’t have much success at SWAC conference foe Alabama State, going an underwhelming 13-35 overall and 12-24 in the conference, Williams was the main target to replace Brent. The outgoing Brent wasn’t overly successful himself, going 117-155 overall with a winning record in the SWAC at 86-76. He did lead the Tigers to a SWAC title in 2021, but went 12-20 this season, including a .500 record in conference (9-9).

 

Williams hasn’t had much success as a head coach, but not all is his fault. He will be able to impress his NBA experience and knowledge on a higher caliber of player, as JSU’s overall athletics profile is rising thanks to the success of Deion Sanders and the football team.  

Williams exuded a ton of confidence upon taking the Alabama State job. He had this to say to Sports Illustrated about his preparedness:

“I felt I was prepared, I was confident, I know I can do a great job. It wasn’t like I was throwing darts on the wall and seeing what sticks. It was a situation where I knew it was a good fit. The more I did my research, the more that became evident.”

 

Williams Has Shown An Ability To Recruit: First Class Included Three-Star Trace Young

In 2020, Williams landed the second-best class in the SWAC, headlined by Wyoming transfer and former three-star product Trace Young. He also added some highly-ranked JUCO products in EJ Clark, DJ Jackson, Jordan O’Neal, Kenny Strawbridge and Latrell Tate. But this group never seemed to mesh on the floor, and as a result the underwhelming record shows.

With Williams showing a prowess to recruit at a pretty high level, it should bode well for him heading to JSU. Working with someone like Deion Sanders (while not hands-on) should only help enhance the type players he’s able to recruit to Jackson. Sanders has shown his recruiting acumen during both recruiting cycles at JSU, landing the No. 55 ranked class in all of CFB in 2021 and landing two top 50 recruits in 2022. That includes the No. 1 overall recruit in the nation, Travis Hunter.

 

Williams/Sanders Duo Should Only Bolster Visibility, Exposure And Revenue

In a little over 18 months, Sanders has done some magical things for the football program and athletics department as a whole. From a visibility, exposure and revenue standpoint, it’s been surreal. Now with Williams the hope is the basketball program can grab some of that and become more recognized. With Williams being a native of Jackson and NBA champion, one can only hope that keeps the local talent at home and playing for the Tigers. His NBA connections, sort of like Coach Prime’s for the NFL, should bolster recruiting easily.

If the vision of AD Robinson is to dominate the SWAC in the two most profitable sports, he’s got two former pros leading the way. And he has to like his chances.