Capital City Go-Go head coach Mike Williams is one of youngest coaches in pro sports history

Pro Sports

WASHINGTON (WDVM) – In 1950, the late Walt Budko was a player coach for the Baltimore Bullets. At just 25-years-old, he was one of the youngest professional basketball head coaches of all time. In 2021, youthful leadership has returned to the same organization.

25-year-old first year head coach Mike Williams, currently the youngest head coach in American professional basketball, is preparing to lead the Capital City Go-Go, the Washington Wizards’ G-League affiliate, into the 2021-22 season on Friday.

“No matter how young he is, he knows the game of basketball,” Capital City Go-Go and Wizards guard Cassius Winston, who is two years younger than Williams, said. “He knows how to motivate guys. He knows how to reach guys. He knows how to you know what I’m saying, put guys in a position to be successful.”

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard and Go-Go GM Amber Nichols, have developed a good relationship with Williams, who has been in the organization’s development staff since 2018. The Go-Go officially named Williams its head coach in August.

“He’s super relatable to the guys, just from a cultural standpoint, they have a lot in common,” Nichols said.

Williams grew up locally, attending Wizards games with his father. Williams says he has played and loved the game of basketball since he was three-years-old.

“Michael always wanted to go to the basketball court,” Williams’ father Michael Williams said. “He would play for a little while on the playground equipment but then he wanted to go and try to make baskets.”

Williams’ parents Michael and Tiffany Williams, remember Williams excitedly donning the jersey of his favorite player, Gilbert Arenas. His father says, one time they attended a Wizards vs. Philadelphia 76ers game, sitting courtside, and Mike was amazed to be sitting so close to former NBA star Allen Iverson.

“Basketball is the game I was drawn to,” Williams said. “I didn’t want to play soccer. I didn’t want to play football. I didn’t want to play baseball.”

When he was a Freshman at Gonzaga College high school, Williams was in for a rude awakening when he tried out for the school’s basketball team.

“I got cut. So I ended up being the manager for the freshman team that year. And then my sophomore year, I tried out again, and was cut again,” Williams told WDVM. “I’m not gonna lie. I probably shed a couple tears. I just love the game. You want to be a part of the team, you want to play. At the time? No, but in hindsight, you know it kind of set me up for what I’m doing now.”

Williams’ father said it was a tough time in their household.

“He actually said he was going to leave the game alone,” Michael said. “He wasn’t gonna focus on it. But basketball kept drawing him back in.”

Williams spent four years as Gonzaga boys basketball’s manager. He attended the University of Maryland, where he joined the Terps men’s basketball program as a manager as well.

“Being a manager, there’s no job that’s too small,” Williams said. “You know, even now, I don’t mind wiping up sweat if a player falls or getting somebody a water. It doesn’t matter, like whoever does it, the job just needs to be done.”

Williams became a graduate assistant under Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon and after graduating, held an internship with the NBA’s Portland Traiblazers. Right after that, Williams joined the Wizards organization.

“If Michael sets his mind to something, he is absolutely going to do it,” Tiffany Williams said. “And you will not be able to deter him.”

Williams has made a name for himself in the Wizards organization, joining the team in the infamous 2020 NBA bubble and helping develop young talent. Earlier this year, in the NBA G-League bubble, Williams led the Erie Bay Hawks to a win as a fill-in head coach. Williams served as head coach of the Bay Hawks for two games. Members of the Go-Go were playing on the Bay Hawks team in Orlando, after the Go-Go decided to not partake in the bubble as a team.

“It’s kind of cool to think back when I was a student manager,” Williams told WDVM in February. “Wiping up sweat and making Gatorade and washing towels and stuff like that. That’s pretty cool to think where I’ve come.”

Williams didn’t know, but about half a year later, he would become a full-time head coach.

“I called my parents right after my mom was driving and she had to pull over to the side of the road,” Williams said. “And I just felt overwhelmed, overwhelmingly grateful.”

Williams tells WDVM that his mother has already requested more than a dozen tickets for family and friends. Tiffany Williams said that as a local family, they are eager to support Williams and the Go-Go. The Williams family already has a Go-Go schedule on their refrigerator. Mike’s father proudly wears a Go-Go sweatshirt.

“Once we found out and we could share it with people, we told every possible person,” Tiffany said.

On Friday, when the Go-Go host the Westchester Knicks in their season opener, Michael, Tiffany and William’s brother Devin will be watching from the stands.

“It’s going to be special,” Williams said. “I’m sure there’s going to be some butterflies and some nerves. But once the game starts, then it’s just basketball again.”

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