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.”
Justin Gainey Named Associate Head Coach at Marquette
Former NC State Point Guard Justin Gainey (1997-00) has been hired by Marquette as their Associate Head Coach, serving along head coach Steve Wojciechowski, the former Duke point guard.
“We are excited to welcome Justin and the Gainey family back to Marquette,” Wojciechowski said. “Justin is one of the nation’s top rising coaches and his talents, ability to build meaningful relationships and myriad of experiences alongside some of the game’s best teachers will serve our program, and most importantly our players, incredibly well.” (Link)
This isn’t Gainey’s first stint at Marquette, serving as Director of Operations from 2014-17. The past two seasons, Gainey served as an Assistant Coach with Sean Miller at Arizona. Prior to that, he served as an Assistant Coach at Santa Clara for one season with his former head coach at NC State, Herb Sendek.
Gainey’s coaching career began at NC State, where he served as Director of Operations for three seasons (2006-09), and then he went on to work at Appalachian State and Elon as well.
Dennis Smith Jr. Showing Love to Fayetteville in the Midst of Covid-19
Former NC State Freshman of the Year Dennis Smith Jr. never forgets where he came from. The New York Knicks Point Guard is always showing love for Fayetteville, North Carolina.
According to Ian Begley, DSJ is providing food vouchers for 575 first responders at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, and 32 computers for local students in Fayetteville.
Here’s a quote from Dennis Smith Jr. on his donation: “Fayetteville and basketball have given so much to me…. I wanted to show support for the real heroes during these tragic times – the first responders.” Smith Jr.’s full quote, via the Knicks, is here: https://t.co/EtvF1LhVKh pic.twitter.com/G1RpvhGTjF
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) March 27, 2020
Andrew Knizner Enters 2020 as the #6 Prospect in the Cardinals Organization
Former NC State Catcher Andrew Knizner enters the 2020 season ranked as the #6 prospect in the Cardinals organization.
Knizner was drafted in the 7th round by St. Louis in 2016, and was called up for the 1st time to the Big Leagues last year, when Yadier Molina was placed on the disabled list.
The jump wasn’t an easy one, with Knizner hitting .226 in 18 games.
Despite some time in the Majors at the end of last season, Knizner will begin 2020 in Triple-A Memphis, where he has already played 83 games, hitting .283.
Cardinals legend Molina is back to full strength, and backup Matt Wieters was signed to a 1-year deal, meaning it’s not quite time for Knizner.
Will Wilson Enters 2020 as the #10 Prospect in the Giants Organization
Former NC State All-American Shortstop Will Wilson will is entering the 2020 baseball season ranked as the #10 prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization.
After being drafted by the Angels with the 15th overall pick in the MLB Draft last year, Wilson hit .275 in 46 games of Rookie ball with the Orem Owlz.
In December, the Angels traded him to the Giants.
In his final season at NC State, Wilson led the team with a .335 batting average, 20 doubles, 16 home runs and a .661 slugging percentage, and finished eighth all-time in career doubles (57) and homers (39), and ninth in total bases (409).
Wilson is the 3rd highest draft pick in NC State history, and only the 2nd batter to be drafted in the 1st round, alongside another shortstop who is currently in the league as well: Trea Turner.
According to MLB.com, Wilson is expected to make it to the Majors in 2022.