The story starts with Roy, and though Siegfried plays no role, it was spurred by Magic. An 11-year-old Terrence Williams bounded across a Seattle street to shoot hoops with a neighbor, learning the ins and outs of the game from a boy neither knew would be an NBA All-Star.
After the free lesson from Brandon Roy, Williams told his family he wanted to play basketball. His uncles and his grandfather told him to go watch Magic Johnson. Williams saw that smile, those game-altering passes and that team-oriented attitude and had his role model.
“Ever since I was little, I wanted it to be on my shoulders at the end of the game, and I wanted to think pass first,” Williams said. “A lot of people like scoring -- when you’re a little kid, you want to score 12 points for your mom, so you can tell her you scored 12 points. I wanted 12 assists.
“And when you’re little, you’d have to explain to someone you had 12 assists and they wouldn’t know what 12 assists is. They’d ask, ‘How many points did you have?’ I’d be like, ‘Four.’ And they’d be like, ‘Pft. Man, you had a bad game.’ I thought, ‘You don’t know – I probably contributed to like 30 points!’ ”
More than 10 years later, Williams’ ingrained attitude resulted in senior year averages of 12.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.3 steals while shooting .385 from three-point range and .431 overall while playing point forward for the Louisville Cardinals. That versatility, steady improvement and an NBA-ready body (6-6, 213) have earned Williams consideration as a Lottery pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, including the Nets, who hold the 11th selection.
Williams was one of six players to work out for the Nets on Friday, and general manger Kiki Vandeweghe said that Williams had a “very good” session, showing an ability to shoot out to NBA three-point range. He views Williams as a wing who can play some point forward and potentially guard the 1, 2 or 3 positions -- and an intriguing option at No. 11.
“Physical ability: size, strength, quickness -- he has all of that,” Vandeweghe said. “He really knows how to play, so his passing ability stands out. He makes others better, and plays very hard, so I think he’s a great teammate.”
Friday marked the last of 13 workouts for Williams, a process that has left him exhausted after days that can include five-hour flights for hour-long workouts before a return to the airport for another trip. But he’s maintained his focus by reminding himself that competing his hardest will allow him to reinforce what teams have seen throughout his four years at Louiville.
The individual workouts have also offered Williams a chance to quell any doubts about his shooting, the one skill he feels might have been overlooked due to his versatility. He says that shooting 8-for-10 from all spots on the floor during drills has opened eyes, and is the likely cause for his rise on many draft boards.
Williams has been receiving advice throughout from Roy and fellow Seattle natives Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson, joking that it’s “like talking to (his) mother” because they chat so frequently. Robinson recently cracked that since Williams is about to get paid, he’ll have to take the trio out to dinner -- a tab Williams says he’ll be glad to pick up.
With three notable Seattle successes in the NBA, Williams knows comparisons will be inevitable. He played it cool when confronted with the first one: might he one day play like the Trail Blazer who taught him the game?
“Nah, we got totally different styles of game,” Williams said. “He’s an All-Star and I’m just trying to make it to the NBA. But one day, who knows? I could be President one day. No one knows what can happen.”
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