By Robert Held
Donyell Marshall is the new men’s basketball coach at Central Connecticut State University, and he has a long way to go to get the program at CCSU to the prominence of his alma mater UConn. However, with two of the recruits he has brought in, Central may be on their way.
Last week the CCSU men’s basketball coach announced that Chris Williams, who signed a National Letter of Intent, and Donyell Marshall, Jr., as a preferred walk-on will attend the college this fall.
Williams is a 6-foot-6 guard/forward who grew up in the Chicago, IL area. While attending St. Rita High School, Williams earned Chicago Catholic League South Division First Team All-League honors and was also named an All-Area Honorable Mention this year by a local Chicago newspapr.
His high school team won four straight Catholic League South titles. In his senior season he helped lead his team to an upset victory in the regional semi-finals by scoring a team-high 18 points.
“Chris is a very good, tough-minded Chicago player. As soon as we saw him we knew he could play multiple positions and he has a very strong mid-range game,” said Marshall.
Marshall Jr. is also a 6-foot-6 forward, who attended Orange High School in Pepper Pike, OH. This season he was able to help his team advance all the way to the Division II District semifinals.
Marshall Jr. was an Associated Press All-Northeast Lakes District Division II Honorable Mention selection, during his junior year. That season he averaged eight points, 9.5 rebounds and eight blocks per game. He is also the youngest son of head coach Donyell Marshall.
“To be able to coach one of my kids is a dream come true. As he has seen himself improve he has become more confident and he’s going to continue to get better,” said Marshall.
Marshall was hired in April, after Howie Dickenman decided to retire as Central’s head coach after 20 seasons. Dickenman was one of Marshall’s assistant coaches when he played at UConn.
It is going to be a long road to travel for Marshall who is taking over a team that went 4-25 last season. However, Central’s athletic director Paul Schlickmann seems confident that Marshall is the right man for the job.
“I believe he will be able to recruit high character young men that will help advance our competitiveness,” said Schlickmann.
Marshall spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach for the University at Buffalo. While there, he helped lead Buffalo to become the frst team in 14 years to repeat as champions of the Mid-American Conference. Buffalo also made it to the NCAA tournament last season.
Central has not made the NCAA tournament since 2007, when before that they qualified in three of the previous six seasons.
This is Marshall’s first head coaching job. The 15 year NBA veteran signed a five-year contract to lead Central after Dickenman’s retirement.
“You know, a lot of people probably don’t believe in me because I don’t have head coaching experience. I’m young and the players didn’t win last year but you know what we’re going to be ready for the challenge and people are going to like the product we put on the floor,” said Marshall.