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Former Arkansas great brings his new team to Iowa

[ 0 ] December 18, 2011 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Fran McCaffery is well versed in Corliss Williamson.

“I recruited Corliss at Notre Dame,” McCaffery said. “Unsuccessfully.”

Williamson is now in his second season as coach at Central Arkansas, and he’ll face McCaffery’s Iowa team at 7 p.m. Monday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

In the early 1990s, Williamson was a top recruit out of Russellville, Ark. McCaffery was an assistant coach at Notre Dame.

“He was one of the best high school players I ever saw,” McCaffery said. “He was a pretty good pro, but in high school he was virtually unstoppable and had an incredibly mature game. Total package. He had terrific grades. We tried to get him out of Arkansas.”

Williamson signed with coach Nolan Richardson and Arkansas, where he was a two-time all-American. Williamson helped the Razorbacks win the 1994 NCAA title as a sophomore, and was named the Final Four’s most outstanding player.

Arkansas lost in the 1995 NCAA title game to UCLA in Williamson’s junior year. The Razorbacks beat Iowa that season in the finals of the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, 101-92. Williamson was the tournament’s most valuable player.

“I remember Jess Settles as one of the most competitive players I had to compete against,” Williamson said Sunday. “Both teams really competed hard.”

Williamson was a first-round NBA draft pick after his junior season, going to Sacramento with the 13th selection. He played 12 seasons for four teams, and was part of the Detroit Pistons’ NBA championship team in 2004.

Central Arkansas was 5-24 in Williamson’s first season. The Bears are 5-4 this season. LaQuentin Miles, a sophomore guard and a transfer from Southeast Missouri, is the team’s leading scorer at 19.3 points a game.

Iowa is 6-5 after Saturday’s 82-68 victory over Drake, and it got a boost with the return of senior point guard Bryce Cartwright. He struggled earlier in the season with concussion-like symptoms. Then he tweaked a hamstring against Brown, didn’t play against Northern Iowa and went just 6 minutes against Iowa State.

Cartwright matched a season high with 12 points against Drake and logged 28 minutes off the bench.

“I’m happy for him because he’s finally feeling like himself and obviously he’s playing like himself,” McCaffery said.

MONDAY’S MEN’S BASKETBALL GAME

WHO: Central Arkansas (5-4) at Iowa (6-5)

WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City

TIPOFF: 7 p.m.

TICKETS:$12 adults, $5 18-under and Iowa students

TELEVISION: Mediacom

RADIO: WHO-AM (1040), Des Moines and Hawkeye Radio Network

STAT LEADERS: For C. Arkansas — LaQuentin Miles 19.3 ppg; Miles 7.0 rpg; Mark Rutledge 3.0 apg; For Iowa — Matt Gatens 14.1 ppg; Melsahn Basabe 5.3 rpg; Bryce Cartwright 3.9 apg.

ABOUT THE BEARS: Former Chicago Bulls great Scottie Pippen had his jersey retired at Central Arkansas in January 2010.

ABOUT THE HAWKEYES: Matt Gatens is one of six active Division I players with at least 1,200 points, 350 rebounds and 180 3-pointers.

WHAT TO WATCH: Iowa is 7-0 under Fran McCaffery when scoring at least 80 points. UCA opponents average 80.7 points.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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