CONWAY, Ark (UCASports.com) - University of Central Arkansas men's basketball coach Corliss Williamson is leaving to become an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association, the team announced Thursday.
Williamson, a former fan favorite with the Kings as a player, spent the past three seasons as head coach at UCA, his first Division I head coaching position. Williamson led the Bears to their first Southland Conference Tournament appearance last spring.
"Coach Williamson's three years at UCA were very good,' said Dr. Brad Teague, UCA's Director of Athletics. "His hard work is now showing in the level of talent and character his student-athletes bring to our program. We appreciate all he has done for UCA basketball to lay a foundation for future success.
"The Sacramento Kings will now have a valuable coaching asset for their team and community. I know Corliss will contribute greatly to their success and we wish him well.'
Williamson, who won an NCAA national championship at Arkansas and an NBA title with the Detroit Pistons, went 26-62 while at UCA. His final team won 13 games, the second highest total since moving to Division I in 2006, and went 7-11 in the Southland Conference, earning the SLC Tournament bid.
Williamson, the 13th overall pick by the Kings in the 1995 NBA Draft, played 12 seasons in the NBA, retiring in 2007. He played for Sacramento from 1995-2000 and 2005-2007. Williamson won his NBA title with the Pistons in 2004 and was the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year with Detroit in 2001-02.
"The best thing about it was just the opportunity Dr. Teague gave me to coach at that level,' said Williamson, the Most Valuable Player of the 1994 NCAA Final Four. "And the people, that's what I enjoyed the most. The entire UCA community, the athletic department, the faculty and staff, the community, the way they all got behind us and supported our team. The way they believed in what we were trying to accomplish, the foundation we were building.
"It was just an awesome experience. Being a young head coach, with not much experience, it was just a perfect fit for me with the support we had. I am very excited about the time I spent at UCA.'
"We wish Corliss and Michelle all the best in their move back to Sacramento,' Teague said. "We will miss the Williamson family being a large part of UCA Athletics.'
Williamson said Sacramento is yet another perfect fit.
"I honestly couldn't see myself leaving for any situation other than an opportunity to go back to Sacramento,' said Williamson. "It's a place where I cut my teeth as a rookie in the NBA, spent over half of my career there. It's an area that reminds me a lot of Arkansas, with the people, the fans they have there. It's just a great opportunity that I have now to return there and be able to coach at the highest level.'
Teague said Clarence Finley, UCA's associate head coach the past three seasons, will take over as interim head coach for the 2013-14 season.
"Due to the timing of his departure, we will delay the hiring of a new permanent head coach until after the upcoming basketball season,' he said. "The program is in good hands with Coach Finley at the helm. He will be our interim head coach for the year.'