The courts were all but empty and Jay Williams was packing up ready to call it a day, but he still took time to chat amidst the light rainfall. BDN got a chance to speak with the former Duke legend and national champion during the Boost Mobile Elite 24 event in Venice Beach, California.
We’re here with Jay Williams at the Elite 24 skills and dunk competition out in Venice Beach. Jay, how has your summer gone and have you had a chance to do anything special or head back to Durham?
You know, I have a home in Durham and I did have a chance to go back there and play against the guys, and I can gloat about it because Kyrie will get mad (laughs). Us both being from New Jersey we have a lot of pride, and I truly think he is going to be a phenom style of point guard there. But I can say the last time I was in Durham we won 4 games to their 2, we beat them in a series. So, Kyrie, I didn’t particularly leave Durham in good standings with him (laughs) cause we won, but they are going to have a chance to be so special. Every time I go back to Durham, it’s home. I love being around there, the people are great. That’s my family and it always will be.
You get to spend a lot of time with the kids out here. Is that something you really enjoy and what advice do you give them for their future?
Yeah, you know, I really do enjoy spending time with them out here, and we had a session yesterday which was called a ‘Life Skills Session’ that ESPN Rise did. It was great because we talked to the kids about the power of the social media like twitter and facebook. We talked about being more conscious of your actions in public. Now you have to start looking at yourself as a business, not that you want to, you still want to have fun and be friends, but you really want to be careful about what you do and the people you associate yourself with. We’re just trying to make them more aware of the situations they are going to come to in the future, and just trying to help them grow up a little bit.
Definitely some powerful advice there. What did you think about the Skills and Dunk competition?
You know I’ve been to the Elite 24 for the past 4-5 years, and I thought this was truly one of the best. For Deuce Bello to jump over Quincy Miller and do a windmill, and have Brad Beal come out here and do the skills, Quinn Cook did his thing. I wish Austin Rivers would have jumped in a contest to, but I thought it was great and this is a great venue. I think it’s good to be bi-coastal, go back from New York to L.A and touch on different parts that have significant meaning to this country.
How do you like what you’re doing now, your current position with ESPN? Is it something you think you will keep doing or perhaps go into coaching one day?
I don’t know if coaching is in the future for me right now. The recruiting aspect of coaching really turns me off (laughs). But doing television is something I truly love. I don’t know if that is going to be on the basketball side forever or maybe hopefully some more NBA in the future. But I love what I do, I love being impactful to kids and helping make a difference, and TV is a great platform to do that on.
So Duke won a National Championship this year and has the opportunity to repeat. You won a National Championship and had that same opportunity, though unfortunately it didn’t happen. Can you talk about the mindset going into the 2nd year in trying to repeat?
Yeah, sure. The second year was a lot more pressure. The first year, my sophomore year in 2001, when you look back and reflect upon it, it was myself, Chris Duhon, Shane Battier, Mike Dunleavy and Carlos Boozer. I mean 5 guys who, if I didn’t get hurt, we’d all have been playing basketball professionally. And you look at this team that just won it, the expectations really weren’t on them to win it. They got positioned nicely in their bracket and they were able to take care of business. Different year, different national championship. This year coming up, now the expectations are going to be for them to win it, and now everybody is going to be gunning for them. People gunned for them last year because they were Duke, but now it’s a double thing. Now their Duke AND they are the National Champions, so how are they going to handle that? Is Kyle Singler going to step up and handle that responsibility. Jon Scheyer was a critical part to that team last year. He came in at the point guard spot and allowed Nolan to be a slasher and really did a good job of delegating the ball to people at the right time. Now Kyrie as a freshman, he’s great but he’s going to have his ups and his downs. Will he be able to really play up to the level that we know he can play to at the right time, and not have a lull, and really be the leader of that team.
Absolutely. Now Kyrie is a New Jersey point guard, you’re a New Jersey point guard, can you talk about the expectations were like?
Well the one expectation at Duke is to always win a National Championship. And you know you’re going to be the focus of the media every single day, and people have come out and said he could potentially be the best point guard to ever play at Duke. So that carries a lot of weight upon a kids shoulders, who is 17 years old. I’m sure he’s going to have his ups and his downs. The one thing that I know Coach K and his staff will do a good job of is trying to keep him consistent. Let him know that ‘listen you’re going to mess up and have mistakes but you have to think next play’. And that was the one thing that got me through my freshman year, I would mess up sometimes and get really down upon myself but Coach K would always be in my head making me think about the next play. When you think about the next play a part of you lets go of the old play and you focus on the positives of the new play, and he needs to continue to do that in order to be the elite kind of guard you need to win a National Championship.
Thank you very much for the time, Jay.
No problem man, anytime.