The Commerce boys’ basketball team will be under new management next season and recently hired head coach Andrew (Drew) Williams is wasting no time in acclimating to his new squad.
Williams met with just over 20 players for the first time last week and held an open practice on Monday to get an assessment of the talent he will be working with next year.
“We had a good afternoon,” said Williams. “I was impressed with what we have at Commerce. It was evident that they have been well coached by (Rob) Brown.”
Williams said he felt it important to get an early evaluation of his team, because he will likely be modeling his coaching strategies based around the type of players Commerce has to offer.
“We will determine what we need to do from what I see,” he said. “We definitely will play to their strengths. Offensively, there’s not a ton of height. We may have to change things up and go with more of a guard-heavy offense.”
While Williams’ coaching philosophies are malleable, he admitted that he does have a reputation for running a zone-based defense.
“If you talk to any coach that’s ever coached against me, they’d tell you that I’m going to zone you any way I can.” he said. “Defensively, that’s what we will look at.”
Williams plans on putting the Tigers to work this summer with practices on Monday through Thursday throughout June. He also plans to host and compete in multiple summer league games in the first week of June.
Williams was hired at Commerce following the resignation of Rob Brown. Brown resigned from CHS to take over his family business, while Williams enters after taking a year off from coaching after he and his wife had a son.
Prior to his off year, Williams was the head boys’ basketball coach at Heritage High School in Conyers. He led the Patriots to the state playoffs in his first year as head coach, before two rebuilding seasons the following years. Before taking the head position at Heritage, he was an assistant coach under Ronald Bradley – the coach with the most all-time wins in Georgia basketball history.
Williams, a Franklin County native, said he grew up playing sports against the Tigers and had a prior knowledge of Commerce’s success in athletics. The fact that Commerce is a short drive from his home in Watkinsville peaked that interest.
“I was looking to get back into coaching, and I was being very selective in where I was looking, geographically,” Williams said. “I didn’t want to have to uproot my family. There were a few jobs that were in reach, but Commerce has always intrigued me. I was very interested in the athletes here and coming to be a part of the Commerce sports family.”
In addition to his success on the court, Williams brings accolades to the classroom at CHS, where he will likely teach social studies or special education. Previously, Williams has taught advanced social studies classes, hosted tutoring and was selected as the 2013 teacher of the year at Snodon Preparatory School in Bethlehem.
Williams said he’s excited about the opportunity to teach and coach in a small system like Commerce after spending most of his career coaching at AAAAA schools.
“I’m really looking forward to working with the various coaches here,” said Williams. “It is a different situation for me, coming from a five-A school, where we had a big student body and rarely shared athletes. I am looking forward to working with everyone. I’m really excited to be a part of this program on the school level and the community as a whole. Several people have already reached out to me and showed their support. I’m really looking forward to being back in a small town.”