Inside UNA Basketball 2016
Bobby Champagne is in his 15th season as head mens basketball coach at the University of North Alabama. After taking over in 2003, he has returned the Lion program to a position of national prominence.
Under Champagne, the Lions have qualified for post-season play in all 14 seasons, including 14 consecutive Gulf South Conference tournaments and four NCAA tournaments. UNA also won the NCAA Division II South Regional Championship in the 2007-08 season and the GSC Tournament in the 2013-14 campaign. He is 230-181 during his tenure at North Alabama.
The 50-year-old Champagne, who was honored by the NABC as South Region Coach of the Year in 2008, has been affiliated with 13 postseason tournament teams (11 NCAA, two NIT) during his 27-year collegiate coaching career. He came to UNA after one season as an assistant coach at the University of Texas-El Paso. He has spent time as an assistant at Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Oklahoma and Washington State. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, South Alabama.
Champagne has worked with some of the nations best basketball coaches in Kelvin Sampson at Washington State and the University of Oklahoma, Charles “Lefty” Driesell at Georgia State and Ronnie Arrow at the University of South Alabama.
Champagne played collegiately at Jefferson Davis community College and South Alabama. He earned and Associate Arts degree from Jefferson Davis CC in 1987 and his Bachelor of Science degree from South Alabama in 1990. Champagne as a Masters Degree from the University of North Alabama. He was a two-year basketball letter winner at South Alabama earning a spot on the all-academic team in 1988 and was a presidents list honoree in 1990 as well as a Deans List student while playing for the Jaguars.
He and his wife, the former Anna Baxter, have three sons, Charlie Will and Joe, and a daughter Annie.
With more than 35 years of coaching experience, Eddie McCarter enters his first season as assistant mens basketball coach at North Alabama.
McCarter most recently served as assistant coach for three seasons at NCAA Division I Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Prior to that he was the head coach at West Alabama from 2007-2011 and an assistant at UAB in his home town of Birmingham during the 2006-07 campaign.
He spent 16 seasons at the University of Texas-Arlington, including 14 as the head coach. In the 2004-05 season, he became the programs all-time winningest coach since the school became a four-year university. He totaled 179 wins for the Mavericks with a share of the Southland Conference championship in 2003-04. He took over the program in 1992 after spending two season as an assistant coach.
Willie Watson enters his first season at the University of North Alabama. He comes to UNA after serving as an assistant for one season at Kentucky Wesleyan. Watson also coached at the University of Texas-Grand Rio Valley, the University of Alabama and Marion Military Institute. He served as an assistant coach as well as the head coach at Marion Military.
As the interim head coach at Marion Military Institute in 2012-13, he lead his team to a win over the No. 1 team in the region while coaching two All-Conference and one All-Region player. He was an assistant coach the previous season, helping the team to a program best 21-9 record while coaching three All-Conference and All-Region players, including the Player of the Year.
Watson was at Alabama from 2005-to-11, initially as a manager before walking on to the team and helping the Crimson Tide to 20 wins and the second round of the NCAA Tournament as a freshman. Watson then returned to his managerial duties, becoming the head manager before earning a promotion to Graduate Assistant upon the completion of his undergraduate degree. During his time there, Watson helped the team to over 100 wins while supervising 11 managers and implementing travel arrangements for more than 60 student-athletes. He also assisted coaches with recruiting, practices, games, team camps and daily office assignments. Watson contributed to the recruiting of four top-25 classes and helped Alabama to the 2011 SEC West Championship and NIT Finals.
Watson earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Management in May of 2009 and his Master of Science in Sports Management in May of 2011. He also earned graduate certificates in conflict management, negotiation and mediation.
Daniel Williams enters his first season as graduate assistant coach at North Alabama. He arrives at UNA after four years as an assistant coach in the high school ranks in the Birmingham, AL area. He spent two seasons at Pleasant Grove High School and two at Clay-Chalkville High School. During those four years he also coached AAU basketball with the Southeast Elite/Team Carroll organization, which participated in both the Nike EYBL and the Adidas Gauntlet.
Williams holds a degree in American Studies from The University of Alabama. He was a student manager for three years under the direction of Anthony Grant from 2009-2012. During his time as a manager he saw the Crimson Tide win an SEC Western Division championship in 2011 and compete as a finalist during the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). In 2012, the Crimson Tide was selected as one of the 64 NCAA tournament participants.
Prior to Alabama, Williams attended Shelton State Community College for one year where he was a student manager for the Buccaneers and former head coach Barry Mohun. During the 2008-2009 season, the Bucs went 32-4 while winning the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) regular season and the NJCAA Region 12 tournament championship. They accepted an automatic bid to compete in the Junior College national tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas.