Connect with us
[the_ad_placement id="manual-placement"] [the_ad_placement id="obituaries"]


Brooks Donald Williams Returns to Lady Eagle Staff as Associate Head Coach



Brooks Donald Williams
Brooks Donald Williams: Photo from USM Athletics

Story from USM Athletics:

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Southern Miss women’s basketball completes its staff for the 2024-25 season with the addition of Brooks Donald Williams, former Southern Miss assistant and member of the Joye Lee-McNelis coaching tree. Williams brings over 24 years of experience at the Division I to Southern Miss’ coaching staff.

“I am so excited to have Brooks Donald Williams as our associate head coach,” said 21st-year head coach Joye Lee-McNelis. “Brooks has been a longtime friend who was on my staff at Memphis and joined me here at Southern Miss. At Memphis, she proved to be one of the best recruiters in the country. We won 21 games and signed one of the top recruiting classes in Conference USA.”

“As I chose to return to Southern Miss, she joined me to help reestablish the winning tradition of Lady Eagle basketball. In year one, our first recruiting class ranked nationally and included Arkansas Player of the Year, Pauline Love, and Mississippi Player of the Year, Kendra Reed. She left Southern Miss to become the head coach at McNeese and immediately took them from losing to winning. She is a proven winner as a head coach and lead McNeese to six postseason appearances in her nine years.”

Skip Ad”Brooks brings experience in every aspect of the game. Her personality is contagious. Her work ethic is relentless. Family is a top priority for Brooks. Her, her husband Tyler and her son Griffin will be a part of our family just as Brooks brings a team together like family. I know she will impact us in every aspect of the program. We are truly blessed to have Brooks and her family as Lady Eagles.”

Williams, who previously worked as the Lady Eagles recruiting coordinator, has 12 years of Division I head coaching experience with an overall record of 171-201. In her 24 seasons, Williams has coached at Little Rock (2000-03), Memphis (2003-04), Southern Miss (2004-07), McNeese (2007-16), Alabama (2016-19) and ULM (2019-23).

“It is an honor to return to Southern Miss and join this incredible staff and program,” said Williams. “The Lady Eagles are one of the most storied programs in the country. I came with Coach McNelis in 2004 when she returned home to revive the program and it is astonishing to see the success she has had and has sustained. Coach McNelis is one of the best CEOs and coaches in our game, and I look forward to being on the sideline and working alongside her to continue to elevate this Lady Eagle program that is so very dear to her.”

“My familiarity with the staff, players and community will be a perfect partnership once again. I appreciate the love and support Coach McNelis has always shown my family and me, and I look forward to serving her as well as Jeremy McClain, Sonya Varnell and the Southern Miss Athletics family.”

No stranger to the Sun Belt Conference, Williams’ most recent stop came at ULM, where she spent four seasons in Monroe with the Warhawks. In her tenure, two Warhawks earned All-Sun Belt Conference honors with Kyren Whittington (2022) and Emma Merriweather (2023) each earning third team honors.

Merriweather was named the 2022-23 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year along with Gara Beth Self earning 2019-20 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year laurels. Williams’ teams made steady progress each season, even after arriving in Monroe in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the 2022-23 season, ULM ranked highly in multiple statistical categories. The Warhawks finished 11th nationally in blocks (5.2 per game), 23rd in rebounds (41.50 per game) and ranked 43rd and 47th, respectively, in offensive and defensive rebounding.

Skip Ad her direction, the Warhawks signed multiple top prospects, including the No. 13 center in the nation in 2020, two Louisiana Players of the Year, three top-10 Louisiana prospects in 2021 and two McDonald’s All-American nominees.

Prior to her tenure at ULM, Williams spent three seasons at Alabama under head coach Kristy Curry. Williams assisted with guard development on and off the court and eventually assumed the role of defensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide for the 2018-19 season. With her assistance, the Alabama posted its most wins in a season since 1997-98 with 22 wins in 2016-17. The Tide posted back-to-back 20-win seasons in 2017-18 for the first time in the 21st century. In her three years in Tuscaloosa, Alabama posted an overall record 56-45.

Williams’ specialty was once again on the recruiting trail, boosting the Crimson Tide with the No. 6 overall signing class in the country in 2018. Her recruiting accolades included an Adidas 3 Stripe All-American, two McDonald’s All-American nominees, the No. 1 junior college transfer, an Alabama High School player of the year and leading scorer in Arkansas.

As one of the Crimson Tide’s academic coordinators, 24 members of the Tide made the SEC Academic Honor Roll in her three seasons. Additionally, Jordan Lewis and Ashley Knight earned spots on the 2017 SEC All-Freshman Team with Lewis taking home the 2017 SEC Freshman of the Year award. Seven freshman earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors and Alabama notched one Player of the Week honor as well.

Ahead of her tenure in Tuscaloosa, Williams spent nine seasons re-writing the McNeese record books. Williams’ Cowgirls won 161 games in nine seasons with an 89-64 record in Southland Conference play. She became the program’s all-time winningest coach in 2015 and guided the Cowgirls to six postseason berths, including two NCAA Tournaments.

After taking over in 2007, Williams guided the Cowgirls from the doldrums of the Southland Conference to the top of Division I basketball. In 2010-11, McNeese posted a 26-7 (15-1) record en route to sweeping the regular season and conference tournament titles to earn the program’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Skip AdHer leadership earned her 2011 Southland Conference Coach of the Year and 2011 Louisiana Sports Writers Association Coach of the Year honors. The 2011 regular season title was the Cowgirls’ first outright Southland title and the first since splitting the title in 1986.

The 2011-12 Cowgirl team finished 26-8 (13-3) and won their second Southland Conference Tournament title to repeat in the NCAA Tournament. In total, Williams guided the Cowgirls to six-straight postseason appearances from 2011-16—the only postseason tournament appearances in the program’s history. In the 2013 WBI, the Cowgirls won their first postseason game in program history and advanced to the WBI finals before falling.

Altogether, the Cowgirls had 18 All-Southland Conference selections, a Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year award, two Southland Conference Tournament MVPs, eight All-Southland Conference Tournament selections, 11 All-Louisiana team selections, three Strength & Conditioning All-Americans and four Southland Conference Student Athletes of the Year. Her greatest feat may have been signing the famed Baggett sisters, Caitlyn and Ashlyn.

The sisters make up two of the three retired jerseys in the McNeese program and were inducted in the McNeese State University Hall of Fame. Caitlyn and Ashlyn Baggett were the cream of the Southland Conference crop as each earned three All-SLC First Team selections as the finished their careers ranked second and third in career scoring. Ashlyn became the second player in school history to score over 2,000 points, finishing with 2,053, while Caitlyn finished third with 1,674 points of her own. The duo also place highly in four different career statistical categories. They also earned a combined six Southland Conference All-Academic Team honors with Ashlyn earning the league’s Student Athlete of the Year award thrice and a spot on the 2011-12 Capital One District 6 Academic All-American Team. Caitlyn earned the Southland Conference’s most prestigious award, the Steve McCarty Citizenship Award, in 2013.

Williams was also instrumental in the creation of McNeese’s Legacy Center—the athletic departments on-campus, multisport arena in practice gym. One of the driving forces behind the project, Williams assisted in the vision, planning, development and design of the $41 million, 145,000 square foot complex that now houses McNeese’s men’s basketball, women’s basketball and volleyball programs, as well as the Department of Health and Human Performance. The new 4,242 seat arena opened to Cowboy and Cowgirl athletics opened for play in November 2018.
Before reshaping McNeese’s program, Williams spent four years under Southern Miss head coach Joye Lee-McNelis, first joining McNelis in 2003 at Memphis before following her to Southern Miss in 2004. At Southern Miss, Williams directed the Lady Eagles’ recruiting efforts, helping to sign future Southern Miss Hall of Famer Pauline Love. Williams’ assistance was instrumental in Coach McNelis’ turnaround of the Lady Eagle program as Southern Miss increased its win total in each of her three seasons.

At Memphis, Williams joined McNelis’ staff and helped the Lady Tigers advance to the second round of the 2004 WNIT to finish 21-10.

Williams earned her first collegiate coaching position at Little Rock, where she worked as an assistant coach from 2000 until 2003. She assisted head coach Tracy Stewart-Lange as the Trojans’ director of recruitment, academics and many other pieces of the Little Rock program.

She earned her Bachelors in Sports Communications with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism from Mississippi State University in 2000. She joined the Lady Bulldogs as a walk-on but was unable to compete due to injuries. She instead devoted her time to the program as a team manager her freshman year. She was also a member of the Phi Delta Chapter of Chi Omega Fraternity while at Mississippi State.

A four-year starter and letterwinner at Jennings High School (Jennings, La.), Williams earned LHSAA All-State, All-Parish and All-District honors as a senior and was selected as West Team Captain for the 1996 LHSAA All-Star Game.

A native of Jennings, La., she is married to Tyler Williams and the couple has one son, Griffin.

See a typo? Report it here.
Continue Reading