Familiarity and versatility are two words to appropriately describe Fred Williams, new assistant coach of the Utah Starzz.
Familiarity in that he's got an extensive background as an assistant coach, and familiarity in that he replaces another assistant by the same last name. Versatility in that coaching in the WNBA is just one of his pleasures and expertises.Williams has helped coach a championship at Southern Cal and has helped coach champions like Lisa Leslie, Tina Thompson, Pam McGee and last year's WNBA Player of the Year Cynthia Cooper of Houston.
Growing up in Inglewood, Calif., in the shadow of the then-Fabulous Forum, Williams was a high school teammate of former NBA - and now TNT - star Reggie Theus. "Fast Freddy" was associate head coach at USC with American women's basketball legend Cheryl Miller.
He was also head coach at USC, leaving under his own terms - after taking the '97 Trojan women's team to the NCAAs and a 20-9 record - because the school wouldn't build a women's basketball arena that he thought was needed. He has his own basketball camps and helped the 1997 Los Angeles Sparks run their very first training camp.
And his new compact disc, recorded under the name of Freddy Bass and titled "Let's Ride," has sold 16,000 copies in three months and has already brought back three times the amount he spent producing it. He's worked for Warner Bros. in Hollywood on the "Suddenly Susan" show, teaching star Brooke Shields to look like a basketball player and playing a few bit parts, such as that of a referee.
Williams has a warm personality, winning smile, an impressive resume and a couple of careers.
But he knows who he is.
"I really like basketball. Coaching is my life.
" I know my strong point is being an assistant," says Williams, the new assistant to Starzz coach Denise Taylor this season. He replaces Utah's 1997's Williams, Greg, who moved on to assist at the expansion Detroit Shock.
Now how many men would say that being an assistant coach on a women's team is their strength?
Well, this one would.
His idol is long-time Los Angeles Lakers' and former New Or-leans/Utah Jazz assistant Bill Bertka, who could have had the head Laker job a couple of times but stayed the assistant.
Williams, a 1980 Boise State graduate, says he got into coaching the women's game very early (at USC in 1983) and established a personal reputation assisting a USC program that won the 1984 NCAA title. While at USC, Fast Freddy went twice with the Trojans to the finals, won five Pac-10 championships and made nine NCAA appearances.
Williams considers himself a part of the overall growth in women's professional basketball and is comfortable with a career that would keep nurturing it. His favorite moments are when former players come back to see him.
He took 1997 to help the Sparks, travel to WNBA cities and visit former players and build on his music hobby, which also includes producing for other musicians. "Let's Ride" was named for his love of travel. It's considered "funk-jazz" instrumental but has some classical leanings and includes bass, guitar and electric violin and piano sounds, all of which Williams plays "by ear."