We’ve covered CJ Williams pretty extensively on this site and before his 2-way contract ran out, he was the most interesting story in the NC State Universe. Now ESPN is starting to realize that.
Once a 3-star prospect out of Jack Britt HS in Fayetteville, Williams spent his first 3 seasons as a role player for the Wolfpack. By his senior year, he was evolving into a leader but still wasn’t on anybody’s radar to play in the NBA. In fact, Williams bounced around overseas and in the D-League until this season. Now at age 28, he finally got to live out his NBA dream.
Williams was picked up by the Clippers as a reserve on a 45-day, 2-way contract. Long story short, he ended up starting, being a major contributor to the Clippers and even delivering a game-winning buzzer beater against the Hawks.
Then his contract ran out.
The life of a 2-way NBA player is rough. Even if you produce, the team is still (usually) in no situation to sign you to a full-time contract. Meaning, you get sent back down to the G-League.
It’s an interesting dynamic that’s starting to play out more often in the NBA and ESPN is taking note. They recently examined the life of a 2-way player and profiled none-other than CJ Williams for their piece.
Williams discusses how he got to the Clippers and what his mindset was during his tryouts.They then show a timeline of his journey. which we really advise you to check out.
There is a debate on if the 2-way contract helps or hurts these players and that is kind of a running narrative throughout this piece. Here is a take from Lawrence Frank (Director of Basketball Ops for the Clippers)
“Because of the two-way, not only has he helped us, he’s shown that he’s an NBA player. Without a two-way contract, who knows? Maybe no one would have known that C.J. Williams is an NBA-roster player. And this opportunity will be a game-changer and potentially a life-changer.”
For Wolfpack fans and really all college basketball fans, this is a feel-good story about a guy who never stopped dreaming. Goes to show what hard work coupled with true belief will get you.
Here is the summary of CJ’s interview…
CJ talks about his road to the NBA
- Knew he’d get here, just didn’t know how
- Agents laughed at my NBA dreams, said they didn’t think it was a good plan
- Didn’t have the best college career, knows that.
- Walked into Clippers facility and thought “You belong”. Wasn’t a G-Leaguer trying to make NBA, was an NBA guy getting a shot.
- First time stepping on the court with the team, had to guard Lou Williams.
- Tell young guys to not give up on the dream. Have to have the mentality of “I’m not going to fail”
- Told every agent I want to be in NBA. Only one agent said “Ok, let’s make a 5 year plan.” 5 years later, made the NBA. (That agent was former NC State player Jamie Knox.)
CJ talks about hitting his game-winner vs. the Hawks
- No one knew my name in the NBA circles, then I hit the game winner.
- Was cool to see my name on the NBA’s twitter page and Instagram
- Amazing to look back at where I was to where I am now
CJ talks about crazy travel between G-League and NBA
- Living out of a suitcase. Always have one ready
- Tough stretch near Thanksgiving. Went all over the nation really fast. Hectic. 6am flights were tough on me
- Keeps you tired and had to nap
- It’s been a blessing. Glad for every moment.
CJ talks about the difference in playing in front of an NBA crowd
- 20 people in stands for G-Leauge. It’s weird after playing in front of huge arena.
- With technology, anyone can see you at any time. People can watch what you did.
- Always have to work hard. A little tough and strange, but you find a way to do it if you’re a competitor.