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New names enter Winthrop men’s basketball coaching search

Winthrop officials have arranged interviews this weekend with two candidates for the school’s men’s basketball position, multiple sources said Wednesday.

Florida State assistant coach Corey Williams and Clemson assistant Rick Ray will meet with school officials during Final Four weekend in New Orleans, the sources said.

Both follow Winthrop’s recent pattern of targeting assistant coaches from major programs: Marlene Stollings from Ole Miss for women’s basketball and Tom Riginos from Clemson for baseball.

Ray was one of the first names to surface during Winthrop’s search, which began earlier this month when Randy Peele was fired. Williams, 41, is the newest name into the mix. He brings an asset the other candidates don’t have — an NBA championship ring.

The former Oklahoma State guard, who made two Sweet 16s as a player, played two years in the NBA. He was part of Chicago’s 1993 title team. He was also drafted in the 12th round by the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs in 1992, despite not playing college football.

He spent eight years as an assistant at Oral Roberts before spending the past five seasons at Florida State. His reputation as an excellent recruiter and developer of guard talent would make him valuable at Winthrop because the Eagles will have at least two – and perhaps more – spots to fill in next year’s recruiting class, with senior guards Andre Jones and Reggie Middleton set to graduate.

Another candidate for the Winthrop position is Wright State coach Billy Donlon. He’s got two years remaining on a five-year contract at Wright State, where he makes $225,000 a year with a $50,000 buyout. A former player at UNC Wilmington under Brad Brownell, Donlon has a 32-33 overall record in two seasons, with a 17-19 mark in the Horizon League.