Pitt basketball fills assistant coach vacancy

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Pitt named Marlon “Smoke” Williamson to fill the vacant assistant basketball coach’s spot created by Barry Rohrssen’s recent move to Kentucky,.

Williamson spent the past two years as an assistant coach at Massachusetts — the Minutemen’s two best seasons since the mid-1990s — under Derek Kellog. This past season, Massachusetts reached its first NCAA tournament in the past 16 years, earning a No. 6 seed after finishing 24-9.

Known for his recruiting, specifically of players from Michigan, Williamson spent the nine years before he joined Massachusetts as president of youth operations and head coach of “The Family,” an AAU basketball team in his hometown of Detroit. Products of The Family include NBA players Jordan Crawford, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Draymond Green, and James Young, who played one season for Kentucky and will enter the upcoming NBA draft.

“We are excited about Marlon becoming a member of the University of Pittsburgh community, and I know he is ecstatic to be coming aboard,” coach Jamie Dixon said Tuesday.

“As a former point guard with strong knowledge of the game, Marlon will help us in recruiting, scouting and player development. We are fortunate to have a coach with his well-rounded background. Marlon is extremely excited to be a part of our staff considering his family ties to Pittsburgh.”

Williamson’s father is from Pittsburgh and attended Peabody High School, and Williamson played basketball at Youngstown State, lettering for four years from 1999-2003 and serving as captain his senior season, when he was named to the Horizon League’s all-defensive team as well as the Penguins most valuable player.

Williamson is excited to get to work in his new position.

“Pitt’s going to get a hard-working coach [in me], somebody who won’t be outworked,” he said. “I’m going to hit the recruiting trail hard.”

In light of that, he will spend most of the summer months recruiting.

“My goal is to be a head coach. I want to be Jamie Dixon. To do that, you have to master every aspect of coaching.”

Williamson plans to use his experience from The Family to establish relationships with players and recruits. He considers Pitt to be a program of high success and aims to help maintain what Dixon has accomplished over the past decade.

“My drive is simply to be great. Be great at what it is we’re doing. We’re practicing? Let’s have a great practice. We’re playing somebody? Let’s have a great game and a great win. We’re competing with each other? Let’s be great.”

Hayes Gardner: hgardner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @HayesGardner.

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