Hard work, growth spurt led Wil­liams to NBA

Junk­yard Dog in Char­lot­te­town this week for NBA all-star event

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY JA­SON MAL­LOY

Jerome Wil­liams was a high school point guard who liked to get oth­ers in­volved be­fore a seven-inch growth spurt in col­lege changed his game.

“That’s when my game went to an­other level,” Wil­liams told The Guardian dur­ing a re­cent in­ter­view. “What used to be a fin­ger roll layup turned into tom­a­hawk dunks.”

Wil­liams was not re­cruited as a six-foot-three point guard at Ma­gruder High School in Mary­land. He paid his own way to at­tend Mont­gomery Col­lege in his home state for two years be­fore be­ing no­ticed dur­ing a pickup game in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

He played two sea­sons for the Ge­orge­town Hoyas be­fore be­ing drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft by the Detroit Pis­tons. A trade brought him north of the border to the Toronto Raptors and he quickly be­came a fan favourite for his scrappy play, en­ergy and work ethic.

With the NBA all-star game tak­ing place in Toronto on Feb. 14 - the first time it’s been held out­side of the United States - the NBA is hold­ing events across the coun­try.

Wil­liams is one of the for­mer NBA play­ers tak­ing part in the tour. He will be in Char­lot­te­town this week­end.

There will be a kids­fest Fri­day from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Chi Wan Young Sports Cen­tre at UPEI.

There will be an all-star chal­lenge Satur­day at UPEI where any­one over the age of 14 can take part in a skills chal­lenge, three-point and dunk com­pe­ti­tion. Par­tic­i­pants will be com­pet­ing for an all-ex­pense paid trip to Toronto to play for the na­tional ti­tle.

Wil­liams never took part in such a com­pe­ti­tion grow­ing up, but en­joys watch­ing all three events.

“You al­ways enjoy the slam dunk con­test,” he said, “but I have to ad­mit, over the years, when guys get hot from that three­p­oint line, that’s really fun to watch.”

Wil­liams, af­fec­tion­ately known as Junk­yard Dog dur­ing his Raptors days, was in St. John’s, N.L., for a tour stop on Nov. 22.

“We’ve had so much fun,” he said. “I just have a tremen­dous time re­con­nect­ing with my Dawg Pound fans as well as NBA fans all over Canada and en­cour­ag­ing them to check out all-star week­end be­cause it really is a once-ina-life­time event.”

Wil­liams re­tired in 2005. Now 42 years old, he has served as an NBA cares com­mu­nity am­bas­sador and coached at Findlay Prep, where he saw fu­ture NBAers Cory Joseph, An­thony Ben­nett and Tris­tan Thomp­son.

SUB­MIT­TED

Jerome (Junk­yard Dog) Wil­liams, cen­tre, took part in the Na­tion­wide NBA All-Star Pro­gram in St. John’s, N.L., in Novem­ber. Zachary Hur­ley, sec­ond from left, won the three-point com­pe­ti­tion and Aeilee Toulany, sec­ond from right, won the skills com­pe­ti­tion. They were joined by mem­bers of the Chicago Luvab­ulls and Franklin, the Philadel­phia 76ers mas­cot.

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