Most of our “Where are they now?” pieces usually tell a story about an ex-NC State basketball player trying to make it in the NBA, or pursuing a career in the sport overseas. The story of Cornelius Williams is a bit different.
Williams was never a super-star. He was never looking to make basketball a career. Instead he used basketball to get an education that would propel him to a much more important place.
Cornelius Williams joined NC State in 1997 under then coach Herb Sendek. Hailing from Fort McClellan, Alabama, the 6’11 center was part of Sendek’s second recruiting class. He was not a sought after prospect and was more of a project player. In four years Williams never averaged more than 2 points per game and averaged 8.3 minutes per game in his career. But that isn’t what makes this story interesting.
While Williams never found extreme success on the basketball court, he was busy finding that success in the classroom. We caught up with Cornelius to find out how that worked out what he’s up to now…
“Basically right now I’m a chemist. I work for Johnson and Johnson and I’ve been doing that for the last six years and have been working in the pharmesutical industry for the last 12 years now and it’s something I really enjoy.” said Williams. “After college I pretty much gave up basketball. It was fun while it lasted but I had a lot of other things I wanted to do. I dabbled for a little bit and that was good enough.”
Williams doesn’t come around NC State much these days. He’s a busy man, so attending games can be tough but he always has, and always will make time for his teammates.
“My time at NC State was great. It was a great experience. I learned a lot and made some close friends. As far as basketball goes, sometimes it’s just time to move on, but I still love NC State and especially my teammates.”
It certainly shows as Williams, who hasn’t been seen at many Wolfpack functions over the past 10 years, has been in attendance at the Brian Keeter Hope to Walk golf outing on both occasions..
“Like I said my Wolfpack teammates were and are important to me. I think it’s great that they put on this event for Brian’s foundation. Putting things like this on for him are needed. I’ve been around him a lot since his accident and these type of things, they boost his confidence and moral.” said Williams.
In today’s world, sport has become a business, where kids strive to use basketball to make a career for themselves or to find stardom. While there’s nothing wrong with that, every once in a while you find a player like Cornelius Williams. He used basketball as a learning experience, an outlet from school and for the bonds created between him and his teammates.
“Playing college basketball was a great experience, but I’ve got a family, my friends and a career and I’m very happy where I’m at, doing what I’m doing.”