Griz Basketball: Meet the New Coach – Reuben Williams
Welcome to Missoula, Reuben Williams.
The former Willamette University athlete, Cal Poly High School assistant coach, and University of Arkansas graduate assistant is the latest addition to the Montana Grizzlies Men's Basketball coaching staff. Head Coach Travis DeCuire added the extra assistant thanks to an NCAA rule change that allows five assistants on staff beginning this season.
Williams graduated high school at Cal Poly High School and played one season at Division II's Willamette in Salem, Ore. If you're playing along at home, Willamette's mascot is the Bearcats. Unfortunately, his playing career was cut short due to injury.
"My senior year I tore ligaments in my ankle so half the season I was sidelined, watching the games. It kind of changes perspective."
I asked what kind of a player Williams was prior to his injury, and who he most compared to at the collegiate or pro ranks.
"The dudes that I'm thinking of are way too good for me to compare my game to, but some players I watched so much going up: Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul."
Not a bad pick to sculpt your game after but his game was hampered by the ankle injuries in the end. It wasn't all negative, however, because from the troublesome injury front came a desire to coach.
"It actually motivated me to go into coaching," Williams said about the injury. "I've been very passionate about coaching basketball... so I coached AAU basketball that summer before I went to college and just had the coaching bug. "
Williams embarked on his coaching journey at his high school alma mater Cal Poly, where he coached future NBA Champion with the Denver Nuggets Peyton Watson. It was a successful first step as they won a lot of games and championships during his tenure. He'd move on to Cal State Fullerton and eventually Fayetteville, Ark.
Tutelage under Arkansas's Erik Musselmann
The next stop was with the Arkansas Razorbacks. Williams spent one season as a grad assistant in 2022-2023, and he made it worth it. One season, one trip to the Sweet 16.
"It was actually unbelievable," Williams described the Sweet 16 Journey. "I remember in high school bringing my IPad to school when March Madness was happening. I would watch the games in the back of the classroom, I got kicked out of class. Just being a fan of March Madness and then on the flip side being on the team that has this big win, has this big jump to the Sweet 16. It was surreal."
That trip to the Sweet 16 is motivation for the young assistant coach.
"It inspired me now because I want to experience that every single year I coach college basketball. My first day on campus I got to talk to the players. That's the only thing I've been talking about: Us getting back to the NCAA tournament."
Fayetteville, AR to Missoula, MT
I have never been to Fayetteville, AR, but I imagine the mountains of Missoula provide a bit of a culture shock to someone moving from the South. Rebuen's all for the mountains so far.
"I can get definitely get used to the 10 p.m. sunsets. The weather is beautiful, the scenery is amazing, the people are very, very nice," said Williams. "It actually surprised me. I didn't know Missoula was gonna be this beautiful."
Off the court, Williams and his girlfriend live the leisurely lifestyle.
"We just like to kick it, go outside, go get some food."
Coach Williams is a foodie like the rest of us and is looking for your help, Missoula. He needs some suggestions on where to eat in town.
"I would love for the fans to reach out to me and send me some, maybe 5 suggestions."
Comment on the Facebook post to let Coach Williams know which restaurants to check out. He has found one locale to pique his culinary interests.
"I have to shout out to Desperado's. I had some really good wings from there."
You're going to fit in just fine in Missoula, Reuben.
Listen to the full interview with Coach Williams below.
Your Best Bet for Lunch in Missoula Montana