Scott Williams went undrafted after he finished his four-year career at the University of North Carolina. The big man learned from every minute of his successful 15-year career in the NBA, and had the opportunity to share his knowledge with aspiring NBA players during his first season as a coach in the NBA D-League. Williams' career was the result of hard work, and there's no doubt he can paint a perfect picture for players in the NBADL looking to land a GATORADE Call-Up. Now officially in the offseason, Williams took a moment to look back on his first NBADL season with RidiculousUpside.com.
After an NBA career which spanned over 746 games, Williams became a broadcaster after his playing days. Obviously, a guy who spent that amount of time in The Association has plenty of stories and insight to share. It doesn't hurt that Williams is incredibly well-spoken and engaging, thus, leading to his successful career in front of the camera.
Despite the NBADL playoffs just getting underway, it seemed like a great idea to get Williams' unique perspective on spending an entire season coaching in the NBA D-League. Williams and I got together, and rehashed his first season between the lines as a coach.
Williams, along with head coach Mike Peck, and fellow assistant coach Barry Rohrssen, started the season off 4-16 as the Idaho Stampede quickly fell to the bottom of the D-League standings. However, Peck and his crew (Williams included, of course) turned things around and went 15-15 over their last 30 games, also ending the year with a three-game winning streak. Yet, the highlight for Williams this past season wasn't their turn around, but a Call-Up for Justin Holiday.
"Without a doubt, having Justin (Holiday) get a GATORADE Call-Up was the pinnacle for us as a coaching staff. He wasn't necessarily a guy on many NBA teams' radars, or a top prospect going into the season, but he worked very hard, and seeing that hard work pay off was very gratifying. He put in all the extra time, the late night workouts, and we were very proud." Williams said.
Williams and the Stampede coaching staff hanging their proverbial hats on Holiday's NBA Call-Up seems reasonable, as the team failed to reach the postseason yet again this year. However, Williams spoke volumes about the character of the guys who made up the Stampede roster, and raved about their mental makeup too.
"The second highlight for me would be the fact that our guys didn't give up, they could of easily turned it in and given up after our slow start. In many of our games, it seemed like we were over matched, but the guys stuck together and impressed me so much with their commitment. The team's pregame motto was always either 'together', or 'family', and they really embraced those two words out on the court and during the season." Williams added.
The "grind" of the NBA D-League season has been documented before, as the official minor league to the NBA carries with it minor league accommodations. For Williams, the unexpected difficulties that occurred in his first season stemmed from the grinding nature of the NBADL.
Williams commented, "The toughest part of the year was the travel and preparation. Waking up when it's raining at 2:30am, and loading the team into the van to drive from Bakersfield to LAX for a flight at 6:30am, was hard. I wasn't prepared for the long trips and 6 hour layovers, I mean I understand the dynamics of the minor leagues, but the lost time would cut into our practices. Rest is the most important thing over the course of the season, and in the D-League it's hard to find it."
Perhaps in no other setting, can a first year coach get his feet wet quite like spending a season in the NBADL. The close nature that's required of coaches and players sticking together in adverse conditions, forces a certain bond to develop, which is special. Discovering what it takes to develop that strong bond for Williams, was apart of his overall learning experience courtesy of his time in the D-League.
Williams explained, "I learned and grew so much as a coach in the NBADL. Head coach Mike Peck and myself didn't even know each other entering the season, but we quickly developed a connection, and he was amazing to me. He assigned me in charge of our "bigs" and defense. I could probably have been a sixth assistant coach at another level, but I wouldn't have learned as much as I did coaching in the D-League. I was able to get my hands in the clay."
Williams' contract with the Stampede was for one year, but regarding his coaching future, Williams would welcome the opportunity to coach alongside Peck come again. "If he (Peck) wants me back, I'm totally in, it was a real pleasure to coach and learn from him. The city of Boise was great too." Williams said.
As with any offseason, coaching vacancies pop up, so the opportunity for a guy like Williams to continue his coaching career in the NBADL is almost a sure thing. Williams said he feels confident in his abilities after his first season.
"I now know that I can do it, I can coach. Interacting with guys from Solomon Alabi to Sean Evans, I felt like I could connect, and deal with each personality that was apart of our team. I'm moving in baby steps, and I have a lot to learn still as a coach, but I feel confident in my abilities." Williams concluded.
The fact that players in the NBA D-League have the opportunity to learn from former NBA players, such as Williams, is a tremendous luxury. In a league full of talent, but perhaps absent of lucky breaks or unfortunate timing, it takes a guy like Williams who can build the confidence of players, despite their early career shortcomings. As he continues his coaching endeavors, Williams' magnetic personality, combined with his invaluable experience as a player, will provide future players under his tutelage, the opportunity for success both on and off the court.