View Original Notice ? Sparks assistant Fred Williams to join Auburn coaching staff
Fred Williams, the Sparks’ veteran assistant coach, made the move to social media this week in conjunction with Auburn’s announcement Wednesday that he’d be coming aboard there to work alongside head coach Johnnie Harris next season.
Williams, an Inglewood native, will remain with the Sparks – who will play in Indiana on Sunday after winning a thrilling 98-91 season-opening victory in Chicago on Friday – until at least the All-Star break on July 10, said Derek Fisher, the team’s head coach and general manager.
“It’s a great opportunity for he and for his family,” Fisher said. “He’s an amazing person, done a lot of basketball in general, but women’s basketball specifically. We kind of celebrated him a little bit as a group once the news came out and told him that we feel better about the WNBA’s future because they’re gonna get to Coach Fred earlier so he can teach them some things before they get to us that. We feel like that will go a long way.”
Williams has been a coach for 40 years, including the past 25 in the pro ranks and the previous three with the Sparks. He also previously worked as the head coach at USC from 1995-97 and as the assistant coach there from 1983-90, when the program rose to national prominence.
Included in Williams’ WNBA tenure were five seasons as the head coach of the Tulsa Shock/Dallas Wings, whom he led to a pair of playoff berths – and with whom he made a lasting connection with Liz Cambage, the Sparks’ new star center who played for him in Dallas.
“I made a pinky promise to Coach Fred that we would meet again in L.A.,” Cambage said at the Sparks’ media day. “Pinky promises are strong!”
In Auburn’s news release, Williams said he was looking forward to the new challenge with the Tigers, who finished 10-18 last season: “The SEC is the toughest women’s basketball conference in the country. You always want to play the best and be tested.”
Hey Twitter! Coach Fred is here pic.twitter.com/B21Xu1j4SS
— Fred Williams (@CoachFredW) May 4, 2022
NO ONO YET
First came the announcement Thursday that rookie Olivia Nelson-Ododa – the 19th overall pick out of UConn – earned a place on the Sparks roster.
A few minutes later: Nelson-Ododa would miss the start of the season with a lingering hip injury. She’s considered week-to-week.
“It was something that actually maybe lingered a little bit from her finishing up her college season,” Fisher explained Friday, when he said he he hoped the 6-foot-5 forward who notched a double-double in the Sparks’ preseason game against Seattle will be able to play in home opener on May 17.
“She pretty much just played through it during training camp. I think it just got to the point where it was talking to her a little bit too much and she finally spoke up … She just had not gotten the attention that it needed when she finished up her collegiate season.”
SPARKS (1-0) at FEVER (0-1)
When: Noon Sunday
Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
TV: Spectrum SportsNet, Amazon Prime