Featured L-R: Donald Williams, Thomas Gray, Dan Dardarian. Photos: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics
Vanderbilt men’s basketball Head Coach Jerry Stackhouse announced the hiring of three staff members: Donald Williams (Director of Player Personnel), Thomas Gray (Director of Recruiting) and Dan Dardarian (Assistant Director of Basketball Operations).
The three veterans of the coaching industry have a wealth of experience at all levels of basketball.
A national champion as a student-athlete at North Carolina, Williams brings his extensive experience as a player and coach to Vanderbilt.
“Donald Williams is going to be an impactful addition to our basketball program,” Stackhouse says. “He is an extremely accomplished player and has had a successful coaching career at both the high school and grassroots levels. As an NCAA national champion, Final Four Most Outstanding Player, and former professional, Donald has a unique and valuable perspective. Those experiences are aligned with the goals of our student-athletes and I am excited to see him share his knowledge and mentor throughout our program.”
Williams was a four-time letterwinner for the UNC basketball program and earned Most Outstanding Player for the 1993 NCAA Tournament after leading the Tar Heels to the National Championship.
He went on to enjoy a long pro career playing both in the U.S. and overseas in Europe and Asia. Throughout his pro career, he also founded the Donald Williams Basketball Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina, which included basketball camps, an AAU team and private lessons to the youth in his home state.
Throughout his coaching career, he served as Head Coach for the boys’ programs at Northwood High School in North Carolina, as well as a stint as the Head Coach of Denmark Tech Community College in South Carolina.
On the girls’ basketball side, Williams has served as the Head Coach at Raleigh Charter High School, St. Mary’s High School and Wakefield High School in Raleigh. During his time at Wakefield, Williams was named conference Coach of the Year twice while leading the team to the No. 1 ranking in North Carolina and No. 12 nationally according to USA Today.
Gray will take on the Director of Recruiting role at Vandy after spending the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 seasons at McNeese State as an assistant coach. He has SEC experience, spending three seasons as the Ole Miss Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Operations from 2018-2021.
“Thomas Gray is an experienced college basketball coach with ties to the Southeast at various levels, including a previous stint in the SEC,” Stackhouse says. “His understanding of the region and the recruiting landscape of our conference will help us continue to be efficient in our identification of the right type of student-athletes who will excel at Vanderbilt. Thomas is highly organized and his basketball collegiate administrative experience will be a key contribution to our program.”
As the Head Coach at Southwest Mississippi Community College from 2014-2018, Gray compiled a 61-39 record over his four seasons. He guided the Bears to the NJCAA Region 23 semifinals in each of his final two seasons. During his tenure, Gray coached 15 players that went on to earn NCAA Division I scholarships, the most of any Region 23 team over that four-year span. Student-athletes excelled on and off the court under Gray’s tutelage with all but two holding grade-point averages that exceeded 3.0 throughout his time as Southwest’s Head Coach.
Gray led the Bears to their third-consecutive season of at least 17 wins, the first time Southwest accomplished that feat in three decades. During the 2016-17 campaign, Southwest finished runner-up in the MACJC South Division, the highest division finish since 2001, with an 18-9 record.
His team was named the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Academic Team of the Year for the second consecutive year with a team GPA of 3.59, the second-highest cumulative GPA in the history of NJCAA Men’s Basketball. The Bears became the first MACJC men’s basketball team to ever win the award in 2015-2016, boasting a 3.42 GPA. In just his second season as Southwest head coach, Gray led the Bears to a MACJC state championship for the first time in 53 years.
Dardarian makes his way to Vandy following two seasons as the Director of Video & Scouting for the SMU women’s basketball program.
“Dan Dardarian is coming to our program with extensive experience in video, scouting, and basketball analytics,” says Stackhouse. “He has worked for successful programs on both the men’s and women’s side and always found opportunities to bring value to their operational goals. We are excited about his ability to help our program.”
Prior to his time in Dallas at SMU, Dardarian spent three seasons with the Michigan women’s basketball program as the Video Coordinator. During his tenure, which included filming and analysis, the Wolverines advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 for the first time in program history.
Prior to joining the staff in Ann Arbor, Dardarian became the first video coordinator at IMG Academy in Florida. In addition to managing a video database of more than 400 games per season, he coordinated schedules and assisted with pro days. In 2017, IMG featured a player in the boys’ and girls’ McDonalds’ All-America Game, becoming the first school in history represented in both games.
A native of Michigan, Dardarian earned his Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Oakland in 2008 and earned a Master’s in sports administration from Wayne State in 2011. While at Oakland, he worked as a student assistant for the men’s basketball program under long-time Head Coach Greg Kampe. His duties included film exchange and video breakdown, while assisting the coaching staff during the program’s transition to NCAA Division I.