By Mike Slane, NBADLeague.com
To call Sioux Falls Skyforce guard Corey Williams a "journeyman" would be an understatement.
Since graduating from Alabama State in 2001, the 6-3 point guard has played in eight countries, two minor leagues and in two NBA training camps. But it was on the streets of New York City where Williams made a name for himself and discovered that he was good enough to play at the NBA level.
Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images
"I think certain scenarios in streetball prepared me a little bit for the NBA because players would come out there and I'd have to matchup against them," said Williams, who played against several top-notch NBA players in summer streetball tournaments, including Sacramento's Ron Artest, Denver's J.R. Smith and Indiana's Stephen Jackson. "So that let me know that I could play against them and really compete."
Raised in the Bronx, N.Y., Williams' journey began at basketball powerhouse Rice High School (NY) before he was named a junior college All-American at Penn Valley Community College in Kansas. After his successful JUCO stint where he averaged over 20 points per game, Williams transferred to Alabama State to ready himself for a run at the NBA. But, unfortunately, he found himself coming off the bench during his senior season for the underachieving Alabama State Hornets and knew that he'd have to take the road less-traveled if he wanted to someday play in the NBA.
And what an unusual road it has been.
After signing on with the Harlem Globetrotters show to play for the Washington Nationals during the 2001-02 season, Williams bounced around the world to play in countries ranging from Brazil to China in hopes of being recognized as more than just a streetball player.
"I think a little bit of everywhere I played has helped me get to where I am now," Williams said. "The experience of playing in all those leagues has really helped me."
However, it was on the streets where Williams would ultimately be discovered by an NBA franchise.
While playing on a touring team in China, Williams' coach, Tony Parker, contacted Toronto Raptors assistant coach Jim Todd about the talented point guard. But the only place Williams could be seen following his return to the United States was the same place where he became a household name to streetball fans worldwide; the streets of New York.
Don't think that stopped Jim Todd from making a trip to New York City's Dyckman Park to watch Williams put on a show.
"I scored 28 that night in the first half. I showed Jim Todd everything. Dunks, free throws, 3-pointers, everything. You name it, I did it. The second half the other team came out double and triple teaming me. Instead of trying to force my way through the double and triple teams I found the open man, which is what impressed him the most."
Williams was signed to the Raptors veteran camp and lasted until the final day before becoming the last cut.
"It's just all about situations and at that point things were working out better for me and looked real good for me to get the shot, so that's what really sparked me to let me know I could play at this level," Williams said of his first taste of the NBA.
Instead of going back overseas following his release from Toronto, Williams decided to stay in the United States and play for the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the CBA where he went on to average 14.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and a league-leading 9.8 assists per game in 33.7 minutes during the 2005-06 season.
He began this season with the Denver Nuggets before being released in mid-September and joining club Cholet in France. After spending only a few weeks in France, Williams knew that he would have to return to the United States if he wanted to take that next step towards his NBA dream.
Williams returned to Sioux Falls on January 1 and has already made an instant impact. He is currently averaging 18.5 ppg, 8.0 apg and 4.5 rpg in two games played.
"Basically, I'm just hoping for another opportunity to show that I can play at that level, and I believe the D-League is that next step in doing that."
With an injury-plagued NBA season upon us, Williams is in the best possible situation to possibly make his dream come true and play in the NBA.
But donít mention 10-day contracts or call-ups to the hardworking guard.
"I'm just looking forward to being positive, winning games and playing well. I'm not looking to get a call-up next week or the week after, I'm just preparing myself to be here for the whole season and to do well. My goal is to win a championship and that's it."