Monday, November 15, 2010
By Scott Stanchak, NBA D-League.com
Reggie Williams couldn’t remember the exact Facebook status update he made on March 22, 2010. What he does recall, however, is what it was about.
The Golden State Warriors had signed the 24-year-old to a fully guaranteed contract for the 2010-11 season that day. It was a surreal moment in his life and a major accomplishment in his young career. Williams was proud, and rightfully so.
“I called my father and let him know, then let my aunts and brother know,” Williams said standing outside the Warriors locker room at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. “I then made some phone calls to some friends and made it a Facebook status.”
Before you question why Williams made the post on Facebook and not Twitter, where he has 5,570 followers, he’s quick to point out he wasn’t using the social service at the time.
Williams has quickly established himself as one of coach Keith Smart’s top choices off the bench. In just his second season with the Warriors, he’s averaging 8.2 points and 1.9 assists, both team highs among the reserves. This output makes Williams one of the reasons behind Golden State’s 6-4 start, the sixth best record in the West.
“He’s a guy I can count on and rely on because I know what he can do when he gets in the game,” Smart said.
The road to Golden State was not a smooth path for Williams. His high school accomplishments were impressive – “all-region, all-metro, all-state, the MVP of the Virginia high school All-Star game,” he said – but every major Division-I school passed. He landed at Virginia Military College, where he not only set the school scoring record (2,526), but the state one as well.
Williams worked extremely hard at VMI, but despite his striking numbers, NBA teams weren’t interested in 2008. Left with little options, he headed to France for a season to hone his skills. There, he faced tougher competition among seasoned professional athletes. One year later, he was taken by the Sioux Falls Skyforce with the 16th pick of the second round in NBA D-League Draft.
In 31 games under coach Tony Fritz, Williams performed superbly. Night in and night out, he filled up the stat sheet with averages of 26.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals. Williams credits Fritz and point guard David Bailey for getting him involved so often in the offense, but stopped short of calling the D-League and “easy” stop on his resume.
“I’m not going to say it was easy because the guys down there are really, really good ballplayers,” Williams said. “You can tell how hungry they are, if not with the NBA, just to get a better contract and more money overseas. It wasn’t easy. I think I just got in a comfort zone.”
That comfort zone came through additional hard work.
“My roommate, Leemire Goldwire, and I, we would go to practice and then at night we would go in the gym and workout another two hours, just putting extra shots up.”
Golden State kept their eye on Williams and finally put a pen in his hand on March 2. In 24 games with the team last season, he did enough in two 10-day contracts to earn the full-year deal.
“I was blessed enough to have a good 10 days, then another 10 days,” said Williams, who averaged 15.2 points and 4.6 rebounds for the Warriors last season. “It was like a rollercoaster ride. It was very, very exciting, like a general rush, very thrilling.”
Smart is quick to praise his two-guard, small forward: “He acted like he belonged in the NBA and so now he has that ability to play multiple positions for us. He has the ability to put it on the floor to shoot the basketball. Now he’s developing into becoming a defensive guy for us.”
This type of well-rounded game will prove valuable for Williams and ultimately decided how many more guaranteed contracts he’s offered. This time, family, friends and, of course, Twitter will be among the first to know.