Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams, who finished second in the NBA to Rajon Rondo in assists per game, was All-NBA second team in 2008, and may end up there again this year. In the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, D Will hit big shots and played major minutes. And at age 24, his best professional and Olympic basketball is still ahead of him.
I spoke with D. Will after a game where 3 Redeem Teamers were on display, if he wanted to play for the United States again in 2012.
"If they ask me, barring injuries or anything like that, I'd love to play. It was a great experience, a chance to represent my country, my organization, my family and win a Gold medal, something I'll cherish for the rest of my life," he responded.
As anyone who's attended a Bulls-Jazz game at the United Center will tell you, Deron gets a fantastic reception anytime he visits Chicago. He answered my question about Chicago sports fans thusly:
"They're great, I went to Illinois, there's a lot of Illinois fans in Chicgao, so they treat me great. I love Chicago, it's my second home, I love being there, I spend a lot of time there in the summer. It's a great city."
I asked him his thoughts on Chicago's 2016 Summer Olympics bid and what their prospects were as a host city.
"They'd be a great host, I saw the 3D plans for what they want to do with it, how they're gonna change everything around, all the facilities, it looks amazing," Williams responded.
Williams is also to University of Illinois graduates what Jason Kidd is to Cal-Berkley alums or what Dwyane Wade is to Marquette people. I've made a case that D. Will, the highest NBA lottery pick in school history is the best Illini pro player of the modern era, (email me if you care to read that argument).
Earlier this year I covered a game where Illini sophomore point guard Demetri McCamey made a pretty sick dribble-drive move before penetratign to the hole, McCamey described it as...
"That was just something Deron taught me this summer, to get them on your help and when you feel them try to reach, spin right off. Tisdale did a good job of selling and I came right in for a lay-up."
I told D-Will about this: "I like Demetri a lot as a player. I think he has a chance to be a great point guard and do some special things there, I'm really excited about the next two classes we have coming in, I think we'll be back at the top of the Big Ten and hopefully be back in the tournament this year."
I then followed up by asking him if shows any more of the players a thing or two when he can.
"I try to, it's tough for me to get back, especially the past couple summers when I've been paying with Team USA, I'm gonna try to go back this summer and visit with them- hopefully work on my degree a little bit and finish up, I'm not too far from that, should be fun."