Williams on ESPN
September 10, 1981 |
Plainfield, New Jersey
|Listed height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Listed weight||195 lb (88 kg)|
|High school||St. Joseph (Metuchen, New Jersey)|
|NBA draft||2002 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2nd overall|
|Selected by the Chicago Bulls|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
|College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2017
Jason David Williams (born September 10, 1981) is an American former basketball player and current college basketball analyst. He played college basketball for the Duke University Blue Devils and professionally for the Chicago Bulls in the NBA. He last signed with the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League, but was waived by the Toros on December 30, 2006 due to lingering physical effects from a 2003 motorcycle accident. Although he had been known as Jason, he asked to be called Jay on joining the Bulls in 2002, to avoid confusion with two other players in the NBA at the time, Jason Williams and Jayson Williams.
The 6-foot-2-inch (1.88 m), 195-pound (88 kg) point guard grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey, and attended St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, graduating in 1999. He not only excelled at basketball, but took an active interest in other activities, most notably chess. His nickname in high school was "Jay Dubs." Williams also played junior varsity soccer during his freshman year and varsity volleyball during his senior year. In basketball that year, Williams was named a First Team All-State Player in New Jersey, the New Jersey Player of the Year, a Parade All-American, a USA Today first team All-American, and a McDonald's All-American, where he competed in the Slam Dunk Contest and the McDonald's All-American Game, scoring 20 points in the contest. He was also named the recipient of the 1999 Morgan Wootten Award for his basketball achievements and his work in the classroom, where he maintained a 3.6 GPA.
At Duke, Williams became one of the few freshmen in school history to average double figures in scoring and was named ACC Rookie of the Year and National Freshman of the Year by The Sporting News, averaging 14.5 points, 6.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per contest. He was also a first team Freshman All-American by Basketball Times.
The next season Williams started all 39 games and led the Devils to the 2001 NCAA National Championship, earning NABC Player of the Year honors. His 841 points broke Dick Groat's 49-year Duke record for points in a season, while he led all tournament scorers with a 25.7 ppg average. Williams also set the NCAA Tournament record for three-pointers attempted (66), while also making 132 three-point field goals—good for the sixth-highest total in NCAA history. His 21.6 ppg led the ACC and made him the first Duke player since Danny Ferry (1989) to lead the league in scoring. His 6.1 assists were good for second in the league, while he also ranked second in three-point field goal percentage (.427) and first in three-pointers made (3.4 per game). Williams was widely considered the best player in college basketball, earning both the prestigious Naismith Award and Wooden Award as College Basketball's Player of the Year in 2002. He graduated with a degree in Sociology in 2002, and left Duke with 2,079 points, good for sixth all-time, and with his jersey number 22 retired at Senior Day.
In 2001–02, Williams, Carlos Boozer, and Mike Dunleavy Jr. each scored at least 600 points for the season, a feat only matched at Duke by Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, and Nolan Smith in the 2009–10 season. Williams (841) and Shane Battier (778) on the 2001 national championship team were one of only two Duke duos to each score over 700 points in a season, the other duo being Scheyer (728) and Singler (707) in the 2009–10 season.
Williams was a starter in the Bulls' line-up for most of the 2002–03 NBA season. Although his performance was inconsistent and he competed for playing time with Jamal Crawford, he showed signs of promise including posting a triple-double in a win over his homestate team, the New Jersey Nets.
On the night of June 19, 2003, Williams crashed his Yamaha R6 motorcycle into a streetlight at the intersection of Fletcher and Honore streets on Chicago's North Side. Williams was not wearing a helmet, was not licensed to ride a motorcycle in Illinois, and was also violating the terms of his Bulls contract by riding a motorcycle. Williams injuries included a severed main nerve in his leg, fractured pelvis and three dislocated ligaments in his left knee including the ACL. He required physical therapy to regain the use of his leg. A week after the motorcycle crash the Bulls drafted point guard Kirk Hinrich. When it became clear Williams would not be returning to the Bulls for a long time, if at all, because of his injuries, he was waived. The Bulls legally did not have to pay him any salary because his injuries occurred while he was violating his contract by riding a motorcycle. Instead the Bulls gave Williams $3 million when they waived him, which Williams could use toward future rehabilitation expenses. Williams stated at the time that he would continue to train and make a return to the Bulls, but in his 2016 memoir he mentioned that a lot of the Bulls' severance package fueled his addiction to illegal pain killers. In the interim, he appeared in college and high school basketball broadcasts on ESPN as a commentator.
Williams made an attempt to continue playing basketball. Although the Bulls no longer expressed much interest, on September 28, 2006, the New Jersey Nets announced that it had signed Williams to a non-guaranteed contract, giving Williams the opportunity to play in his home state. However, less than a month later on October 22, the Nets released Williams.
Williams subsequently announced that he has no plans to resume his basketball career. He did, however, complete a tryout with the Miami Heat prior to the 2010–11 NBA season, but was not picked up by the Heat.
Williams works for ESPN as a college basketball analyst. He has also done motivational speaking and worked as an analyst on CBS College Sports Network during the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. He was a recruiter for sports agency Ceruzzi Sports and Entertainment from 2007–09. In 2016, Williams released his autobiography, "Life Is Not an Accident: A Memoir of Reinvention". Presently, Williams is the Spokesperson of Visions Federal Credit Union, headquartered in Endwell, New York.
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