Corliss Mondari Williamson (1973–)

Corliss Mondari Williamson is a retired National Basketball Association (NBA) player from Russellville (Pope County). During his basketball career, Williamson played for the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and helped the Razorbacks win the 1994 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) National Basketball Championship.

Corliss Williamson was born on December 4, 1973, in Russellville, one of two sons of Jerry and Bettye Williamson. During his career at Russellville High School, Williamson earned all-conference and all-state honors three times. During both the 1990–91 and the 1991–92 seasons, Williamson was awarded the Gatorade National Player of the Year Award. During his senior year, he averaged twenty-eight points and nine rebounds per game. He also holds the record for most points in a season and during a career at Russellville High School.

After graduating from high school, Williamson attended UA, where Nolan Richardson was his coach. During his sophomore season, Williamson helped lead the Razorbacks to a 31-3 record and UA’s only NCAA national championship under Richardson. At the end of the tournament, Williamson was named the Most Valuable Player of the Final Four. During his junior year, the Razorbacks went 32-7 and tied for first in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Western Conference. In 1995, Williamson helped the Razorbacks return to the national championship game; however, in that game, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins defeated them 89-78. In 1994 and 1995, Williamson was named the SEC’s Men’s Basketball Player of the Year. As the 1995 season came to an end, so did Williamson’s career at UA. After the tournament, Williamson announced he would forgo his senior year at UA and enter the 1995 NBA draft.

Nicknamed “Big Nasty,” Williamson, as of 2008, ranks eighth of all time in scoring for the Razorbacks, with 1,728 career points. He ranks fifth among Razorback scoring leaders in an individual season, with 695 points during the 1994 championship season. He ranks second and third among Razorback players for all-time scoring leaders during an SEC season; he scored 348 points in 1995 and 333 points in 1994. Williamson ranks first in all-time scoring leaders among Razorbacks in his SEC career, with 866 points during his tenure at UA.

In the 1995 NBA draft, the Sacramento Kings chose Williamson as the thirteenth overall selection. During his twelve-year NBA career, Williamson played for four different teams. Williamson’s longest stay with a team was with the Sacramento Kings, from 1995 to 2000 and again from 2005 until his 2007 retirement. His best season statistically was during the 1997–98 season with the Kings, in which he played in seventy-nine games, averaging 17.7 points per game.

Before the start of the 2000–2001 NBA season, Williamson was traded to the Toronto Raptors for guard Doug Christie. He stayed in Toronto for only one season, playing in forty-two games with an average of 9.3 points per game. At the end of his only season with Toronto, Williamson was again traded, this time to the Detroit Pistons. While in Detroit, Williamson was awarded the NBA’s sixth Man of the Year Award for his excellent performance. During the following season, Williamson was part of the 2003–2004 NBA World Championship Team, making him not only an NCAA but also an NBA champion.

Following the championship season with the Detroit Pistons, Williamson was traded to his fourth NBA team, the Philadelphia 76ers, on August 4, 2004. During his stay in Philadelphia, he played in forty-eight games, starting in five. As a 76er, he averaged 10.8 points per game, but after only one season in Philadelphia, he was, on February 22, 2005, traded back to the Sacramento Kings, with whom he subsequently played parts of three seasons.

On September 26, 2007, Williamson announced his retirement from the Sacramento Kings and from the NBA during a news conference at the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Museum in North Little Rock (Pulaski County). During his twelve years in the NBA, he played in a total of 822 games with an average of 22.8 minutes per game and 11.1 points per game. After the news of his retirement, Williamson announced he was taking an assistant coaching position with the Arkansas Baptist College Buffaloes in Little Rock (Pulaski County). In March 2010, he announced his move to the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), and in 2013 he became an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings. The following year, he joined the Orlando Magic as assistant coach.

Williamson has three sons and currently resides with his wife, Joan Michelle White, whom he married in July 2001. On February 18, 2015, the Razorbacks retired his number.

For additional information:
Ampezzan, Bobby. “Corliss Mondari Williamson.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. June 20, 2010, pp. 1D, 4D.

Slatton, Jeffrey. “Williamson Ends His ‘12 Fun-Filled Years’ in NBA.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. September 27, 2007, p. 3C.

Bryce Kittinger
Harding University


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