Jamaal Williams twice made the Sweet 16 as a player on the University of Washington men’s basketball team, played professionally overseas and came back as part of the Huskies’ staff.
Add head coach of the Thomas Jefferson High School boys basketball to that résumé.
The school hired Williams on Wednesday as its next coach. This is his first head-coaching job after he graduated from UW almost 10 years ago.
“We are extremely ecstatic to have him on board,” Jefferson athletic director Gracie Holden said.
Holden said she was in high school when Williams was a part of UW’s 2005-06 Pac-10 title team that earned a No. 1 seed to the NCAA Tournament and when he started on the Brandon Roy-led team that reached the Sweet 16 again the following year.
“When you look at it on paper, it was such an easy choice with the experience that he has,” Holden said. “He’s been around some amazing coaches.”
Williams joined the UW as a member of its office staff in 2010 and then spent the past three years as an assistant under Clover Park graduate Ed Haskins at Garfield — the school Roy graduated from.
“You can tell he’s excited to be a part of this program,” Holden said, “and to do something amazing with it. Not just on the court, but off of the court, and that’s something we really want for our program.”
Jefferson finished this past season with a record of 11-13 and reached the 4A West Central District tournament. Kyle Templeton, a 1995 graduate of Jefferson, resigned as coach about two months ago and the team will be without 12 graduating seniors next year.
One of Williams’ biggest games as a Husky came in a Sweet 16 loss to UConn. He scored three of his 27 points to give UW a 78-72 lead with 1:55 to play before the other Huskies eventually hit a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left in regulation. UW lost in overtime.
Williams went on to play professionally in Italy, France, Argentina, Iceland, Israel and the Phillippines before returning to the Seattle area. He and his wife, Brandi, have four children — Jayda (12), Brooklynn (9), Braylen (7) and Jorgia (2).
“He knows he’s going to have to create a program that is going to fit him,” Holden said. “We have some great players coming in, but we’re losing all those seniors. In the same sense, I feel like he will be around for a while because this will be his program and it will be as successful as he wants it to be.”