Marcess Williams Named Clarion Men’s Basketball Coach

marcess act 2CLARION, Pa. Western Pennsylvania native Marcess (pronounced Marcus) Williams, the highly successful head men’s basketball coach at Penn St.-Beaver since 2005, is the new men’s basketball coach at Clarion University.

“We are really excited that Marcess has accepted the job to lead our men’s basketball program,” Clarion Athletic Director Dave Katis said. “He is going to be a great fit at Clarion. He has all the intangibles we were looking for in our next head coach, and we believe he will do a great job. His enthusiasm, experience and success at Penn State-Beaver speaks for itself, and his Western Pennsylvania background is a plus.”

Williams, a native of New Brighton in Beaver County, a 1998 New Brighton High School graduate and a 2002 graduate of La Roche College, comes to Clarion after leading Penn St.-Beaver to an average of 17.6 wins per season in his nine years including at least 20 victories in each of the past six seasons.

“I’m excited to be here,” Williams said. “Clarion has a great tradition and has been on my radar for a long time. It was one of those jobs I’d possibly like to step into if I ever had the opportunity. The PSAC is a great league, and Clarion’s basketball tradition is rich. You start talking about the Kwame Morton’s, the (John) Calipari’s, the Alvin Gibson’s, the Stephen Nesmith’s of the world, you start talking about some of the greats. And you know, just from being a basketball guy in Western Pennsylvania, some of the tradition Clarion already has, to be a part of that, how could you say no?”

Williams guided Penn St.-Beaver to the last six PSUAC Western Division titles, and the Lions were also the PSUAC Champion in 2009, 2010 and 2011. In 2009, Penn State-Beaver finished as the USCAA Division 2 National runner-up and in 2011 the Lions finished ranked third in the final USCAA national rankings. In nine seasons, he coached six USCAA first-team All-Americans and led Penn St.-Beaver to a record of 158-99 (61.5 percent). He earned PSUAC Coach of the Year honors in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 and was a Beaver County Hall of Fame Coach of the Year honoree in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

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“First and foremost I surrounded myself with great people, great assistant coaches and great players,” Williams said of his success at Penn State-Beaver. “We built it from the ground up and chipped away at it until we attracted top athletes and great players.”

Williams takes over the Clarion program from legendary head coach Ron Righter, who is the winningest coach in school history with a career mark of 402-299 (57.3 percent winning percentage). That included the school’s first PSAC Championship in 2001 as well as PSAC West titles in 1997, 2000 and 2005. In 26 years at Clarion, Righter had winning seasons 18 times and was twice named PSAC West Coach of the Year.

“Coach Righter did a fantastic job with the program,” Williams said. “It’s an honor to take over the program from someone like him. Hopefully, we can carry on the tradition Coach Righter set before me.”

Williams plans to bring a fast, up-tempo style of basketball to Clarion that includes full-court, pressure defense for 40 minutes and a run-and-gun style on offense. His Penn State-Beaver teams averaged 85.6 points per game over the past three years, and last year’s team, which went 22-8, averaged a PSUAC-leading 89.8 points per contest.

“It’s a style of play the players love,” Williams said. “And I really fell in love with the ability to recruit the style of athlete who enjoys playing this style of basketball. Every day in the gym is a great day to me, and I want the guys to have the same feeling. They like playing this way, and we put a little twist on it with our defensive principles of putting pressure on people for 40 minutes. I also think it’s a style of play the fans love to see. I can’t tell you how many times, when we played on the road, fans would come up to me after the game whether we had won or lost and told me how much they enjoyed watching our team play.”

Williams also has a strong Clarion connection. His college coach at La Roche and the man to give him his first collegiate coaching job was the late Scott Lang, a 1997 graduate of Clarion, who played for Righter.

“Coach Lang was an amazing guy and an amazing role model,” Williams said. “He was more than a coach, he was a great mentor. I think, in a way, Coach Lang is the reason I’m here. There were not too many places outside of La Roche that he wanted to coach, but Clarion was one of those places. For me, to get to come here and coach where he played is a blessing. It’s a blessing to me and the whole La Roche community.”

In addition to his coaching duties at Penn St.-Beaver, Williams was also an Admissions Counselor at the school, a job in which he served as an adjunct professor for the campuses First Year Experience 16-week course as well as Coordinator of the Educational Opportunity Program for the Beaver Campus.

“I think being in admissions really helped me in recruiting,” Williams said. “I got a better grasp of the whole picture, how to help the parents and students from start to finish in their college careers.”

Prior to being named the head coach at Penn St.-Beaver in June 2005, Williams was an assistant coach at his alma mater under Lang from June 2003 until June 2005. He helped the school to its first Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) championship in 2004.

A standout player for the Red Hawks, Williams is the fourth all-time leading scorer in La Roche history with 1,359 career points and the fifth all-time leading rebounder with 561 boards and was an all-conference performer from 1999-2002. He was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2013.

While at New Brighton, Williams earned All-Conference honors in basketball from 1995-1998 and was a key member of the Lions 1997 WPIAL Class AA runner-up squad.

NOTES – Williams is the 12th coach at Clarion since 1928 and just the fourth in the last 40 years joining Joe DeGregorio (1975-82), Dick Taylor (1983-88) and Righter (1989-2014) … During that time, Clarion has won 58.5 percent of its games (634-450) with nine PSAC West titles, a PSAC title (2001), two NCAA Division II Tournament berths (1981 and 2001) and seven NAIA berths (Clarion was NAIA in men’s basketball until 1981). The Golden Eagles have enjoyed seven 20-win seasons during that time frame including a school-record 27-3 mark in 1977 under DeGregorio … Long-time assistant coach Al Modrejewski, who had been serving as Clarion’s interim head coach since Righter stepped down in July, will be Williams’ top assistant. Modrejewski chose not to be a candidate for the head job.
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