David Willson is entering his sixth year as Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Emory & Henry College. He is the fifth coach to lead the Wasps during the Old Dominion Athletic Conference era (since 1976-77). The program has experienced a drastic turnaround both on and off the court during Willson's first five years at the helm. Over the last three years, the Wasps have won more games than any other men's basketball program in the ODAC.
The 2017-18 season was a historic season for Emory & Henry men's basketball. The Wasps won the College's first-ever ODAC championship for men's basketball and competed in the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time in 25 years. The team also earned a place in the D3hoops.com Top 25 Poll (ranked 19th in January) for the first time in school history while finishing the season fourth in the NCAA Division III South Region. Emory & Henry saw four players earn all-conference honors with Chase Branscomb earning first-team honors, John Shelor and Alic Wynn earning second-team honors, and Colin Molden earning third-team honors.
The 2016-17 Wasps won 20 games for the first time in 24 years and competed in the ODAC Tournament Championship game for the first time in 23 years. The team also finished the season ranked fifth in the NCAA Division III South Region. This was the first time that an Emory & Henry earned a regional ranking since the NCAA began the practice in 1998. During the previous year, the 2015-16 Wasps won 16 games, which ranked them as the third-most improved team in the country according to HeroSports.com.
In addition to the program's progress on the court, the Wasps are achieving remarkable success in the classroom. Emory & Henry achieved over a 3.0 average team GPA in 2015, 2016, and 2018. The Wasps are
involved with multiple community outreach efforts around the region and were recognized by their peers as Emory & Henry's "Team of the Year" for 2016, 2017, and 2018. Willson was also honored as the College's Coach of the Year in 2017 and 2018.
Willson came to E&H after serving four seasons as an Assistant Coach at Furman University of the Southern Conference. While at the Greenville, South Carolina school, Willson was selected by his peers as one of the Southern Conference's top assistant coaches in 2011 according to a FoxSports.com survey. He helped lead the Paladins to the program’s best two-season win total in over 30 years and their first postseason tournament in 10 years.
Prior to his time at Furman, Willson was the Assistant Coach at Elon University, also a SoCon member, from 2005-09. He contributed to the Phoenix’ Southern Conference divisional championship in 2006, the program’s first winning season since moving to NCAA Division I, and an appearance in the Southern Conference Tournament championship game in 2008. In this game, the Phoenix lost to eventual Elite Eight participant Davidson College, led by future NBA MVP guard Stephen Curry.
Willson got his start in college coaching during the 2004-05 season at the College of William & Mary under Tony Shaver, who he played for as an undergraduate at Hampden-Sydney College. During his year with the Tribe, he was responsible for scouting, recruiting, player development and community engagement.
A 2004 graduate of and three-year letterwinner at ODAC-rival Hampden-Sydney College, Willson went to three NCAA Tournaments, won two ODAC Championships (2002, 2004) and competed in the 2003 NCAA Division III Final Four. He earned an All-ODAC Honorable Mention selection as a senior in 2004 when he also served as team captain. Willson also played for one season at Southern Methodist University before transferring to
Hampden-Sydney. As a freshman at SMU, he earned the team's Mr. Hustle Award. Growing up for several years in nearby Elizabethton, Tennessee, Willson was a finalist in 1999 for Tennessee’s Mr. Basketball award after moving to Memphis and playing at the Memphis University School.
Willson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Hampden-Sydney College. He is married to the former Anne Benham, who played volleyball and lacrosse at Sweet Briar College. The couple has three children, Maggie (nine), Ellie (seven) and Gus (five).