Mississippi State

Williams added as Bulldogs’ assistant coach

Credit Mississippi State Athletics

Mississippi State head women’s basketball coach Sam Purcell announced Tuesday the addition of assistant coach Samantha Williams to the staff. 

Williams joins associate head coach/offensive coordinator Fred Castro and assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Anita Howard as recent additions to the bench ahead of Purcell’s third season at the helm.  

“I’ve known Samantha Williams since my first day in coaching,” said Purcell. “We’ve experienced a lot of success together at Auburn and Louisville and that time working alongside her makes her a valuable asset to this staff. Her resume speaks for itself, but knowing who she is as a person and what she will contribute to our program both on and off the court makes me even more excited for our student-athletes. Some additions take time, but this one will certainly be a smooth transition. I’m very excited to have her join our program and this community.”

One of the nation’s most highly regarded bench assistants and recruiters, Williams spent the last three seasons in a similar role at Tennessee and enters her 24th season in the collegiate ranks ahead of the 2024-25 campaign. 

During Williams’ time at Tennessee, she helped coach three WNBA first-round picks, seven All-SEC selections and helped lead the Vols to three NCAA Tournament berths with a pair of Sweet 16 appearances. Overall, Williams has been a part 21 NCAA Tournaments in her 22 seasons as an assistant. 

“I’m so excited to join Coach Purcell and his staff and be a part of this program and community.” added Williams. “We go back over two decades, so there’s a level of trust where he knows that I will have his back. He has a clear vision for where he wants to take this program and I can’t wait to do my part in helping him accomplish those goals. I’m grateful for the opportunity to join a program with the tradition and passionate fan base here. I am ready to help this program chase success and I can’t wait to get started.”

Williams played a crucial role in recruiting the nation’s No. 6 ranked portal class per 247Sports in 2023. In May of 2022, Williams coach Tennessee’s team to the quarterfinal round at the 2022 Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals in Springfield, Mass.

Prior to her time at Tennessee, Williams spent two seasons as the head coach at Eastern Kentucky from 2019-21. Williams inherited a program that was 2-27 overall and 0-18 in the Ohio Valley Conference the year prior to her arrival and led the Colonels to 20 victories over her two seasons at the helm. In her first season, Williams directed one of the biggest turnarounds in Division I basketball, as EKU won 11 games in 2019-20, nine more than the year before. It was the third-best turnaround in the nation and the largest win improvement by any first-year head coach. 

While serving as assistant head coach to Jeff Walz in Louisville from 2011-19, Williams worked alongside Purcell and helped guide the Cardinals to eight consecutive NCAA appearances. During her time there, Williams assisted the program reaching the Final Four twice, including a 2013 NCAA National Championship Game appearance, making four trips to the Elite 8 and advancing to the Sweet 16 six times. Louisville compiled a 236-55 record and six top-10 finishes in the national polls during her tenure.

Williams coached four WNBA Draft picks at Louisville. She also sought and signed the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class in 2015, the sixth-ranked class in 2016 and the fourth-ranked class in 2017.  Between 2014 and 2017, Williams and the Louisville staff welcomed nine McDonald’s All-Americans to their program.

Prior to her time at Louisville, Williams was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Duke from 2007-11. She helped the Blue Devils capture two ACC regular season championships, two ACC Tournament titles and make two appearances in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.  Williams was instrumental in Duke compiling three top-five recruiting classes, including the No. 1 class in the nation in 2009. She worked primarily with the team’s perimeter players, developing a pair of All-Americans who were picked in the first two rounds of the WNBA Draft.

While serving as an assistant and recruiting coordinator from 2004-07 at DePaul, Williams helped the Blue Demons through the most successful period in program history, including three-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and the program’s first NCAA Sweet 16 berth in 2006. The program achieved a 72-25 record (.742 winning percentage) during her time in Chicago.

Prior to her stint at DePaul, the 1996 Auburn graduate returned to her alma mater and spent the 2003-04 campaign as an assistant on the Plains working alongside her college coach Joe Ciampi in his final season. The Tigers posted a 22-9 record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, with Williams helping mentor a pair of All-SEC selections during that campaign.

Williams began her collegiate coaching career as an assistant at St. Louis during the 2001-02 season. In 2002-03 she served as an assistant coach at Columbus State University, helping the Cougars to a 28-4 record, a Peach Belt Conference regular season championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

A Luverne, Ala. native who spent her high school years in Louisville, Kentucky, Williams was a four-year starter on the court at Auburn from 1992-96. She led Auburn to three NCAA Tournament appearances, including two Sweet 16 trips and an Elite 8 berth. While at Auburn, Williams played for the U.S. Junior National Team that won the bronze medal at the R. William Jones Cup in Taipei, Taiwan. After her collegiate career, Williams played one season of professional basketball in the American Basketball League with the San Jose Lasers in 1996-97.

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