April 9, 2022
Former WNBA star Natalie Williams named Las Vegas Aces general manager
The former All-WNBA performer becomes the latest former player in the Aces' front office
The Las Vegas Aces announced on Friday that they have hired former WNBA star Natalie Williams to be their general manager heading into the 2022 WNBA season. Williams replaces Dan Padover, who was hired by the Atlanta Dream in October.
“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, a native of Taylorsville, Utah, played both basketball and volleyball for UCLA from 1990-94. In basketball, she was a three-time First-Team All Pac-10 performer as well as Pac-10 Player of the Year in 1994. After college, Williams played three seasons for the Portland Power of the ABL and was named ABL MVP in 1998.
After the ABL folded, Williams was chosen third overall in the 1999 WNBA Draft by the Utah Starzz, which eventually became the Las Vegas Aces. She played four seasons with the Starzz and three seasons with the Indiana Fever, and she was a four-time WNBA All-Star and a three time All-WNBA First Team performer She also was a part of the gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball team in 2000. Williams retired in 2005 and was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.
After retiring from the WNBA, Williams coached at the high school level in Utah. She has since started the Natalie Williams Basketball Academy and served as the club team coach. She coached the adidas USA Select Team in Valencia, Spain, in 2019. She is now one of three former WNBA stars working for the Aces, along with Hammon as head coach and Azzi as the chief business development officer.
“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, the Aces’ president. “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.”
Williams will get right to work as the 2022 WNBA Draft is on Monday, April 11. Williams, along with Hammon and Fargas, will look to add to a loaded Aces roster that includes 2020 WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson. The Aces have the 11th, 23rd and 35th picks in the draft.
Written by Matthew Walter
Matthew Walter covers the Las Vegas Aces, the Pac-12 and the WCC for the Next. He is a former Director of Basketball Operations and Video Coordinator at three different Division I women's basketball programs.