Las Vegas, NV (April 8, 2022)—Las Vegas Aces President Nikki Fargas announced today that the team has hired WNBA legend and U.S. Olympic gold medalist Natalie Williams as the team’s new general manager.
An All-American in both volleyball and basketball at UCLA, Williams played seven seasons in the WNBA, including her first four with the Utah Starzz. She was named to three All-WNBA First Teams and four All-Star Teams, and was a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team that brought home the gold from Sydney, Australia. Williams was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.
“Natalie is one of the greatest players in the history of our franchise and our league, and has dedicated herself to evaluating and developing the next generation of talent throughout her post-playing career,” said Fargas. “We’ve gotten to know her very well over the last year since we launched our alumni initiative, and couldn’t be happier to welcome her to Las Vegas as the lead architect of the Aces.”
“I am very excited for the opportunity to return to the WNBA and to be a part of the Las Vegas Aces family!” said Williams. “It’s an honor to work alongside Nikki Fargas, Becky Hammon, and my former Utah Starzz teammate Jennifer Azzi.
“Thank you to owner Mark Davis for being completely invested in the success of the Las Vegas Aces and the women in the WNBA. I look forward to doing my part to help the Aces put an incredible brand of basketball on the court. It’s time to bring a championship to Las Vegas!”
Williams averaged 20.4 points per game in her collegiate basketball career while also leading the Bruins to national volleyball championships in 1990 and 1991. As a senior, she was named the NCAA Volleyball Player of the Year.
She went on to play two-plus seasons for the Portland Power of the ABL, where she was a two-time all-league performer and the 1998 ABL Most Valuable Player.
When the ABL folded, the Utah Starzz selected Williams with the number three overall pick in the 1999 WNBA Draft. As a rookie, she was named to the All-WNBA First Team, while averaging 18.0 points and 9.2 rebounds, and making 51.9 percent of her field goal attempts.
Williams went on to earn two other All-WNBA First Team nods, and helped lead the franchise to its first postseason appearance in 2001. In four years in Salt Lake City, Williams averaged 15.4 points and 9.7 rebounds.
On December 5, 2002, the Starzz relocated to San Antonio, and five months later, Williams was traded to Indiana. She played three years with the Fever, retiring after the 2005 season.
Williams concluded her seven-year WNBA career with averages of 13.1 points and 8.3 rebounds. She still ranks seventh in league history in rebounds per game.
Since retiring as a player, in addition to raising her four children, Williams has served as a club team coach while running the Natalie Williams Basketball Academy. In 2019, she coached the adidas USA Select Team in Valencia, Spain, and in 2020, the Society of Health and Physical Educators recognized Williams as their Guiding Woman In Sports for her extraordinary service and leadership in female sports.
The Aces tip off their fifth season in Las Vegas, and their first under new head coach Becky Hammon, on May 6 at Phoenix. The team’s home opener, and first of 6 national TV broadcasts in 2022 is slated for Sunday, May 8 at 7 pm PT on ESPN2.