Former NC State football star Jarvis Williams making an impact both on and off the basketball court

 

By: George Abunaw


Williams brings a one-of-a-kind skill set to Florida TNT

Jarvis Williams has never played professional basketball. Still, whenever there's a tournament with a cash prize, he always seems to be one of the first names called up to join a team.

In his native Central Florida, Williams has made a habit of balling out at local $10K tournaments, impressing both fans and opponents with his rugged gameplay.

“I’m a player that can get involved with rebounding, playing great defense, and doing the dirty work,” said Williams. “I’m undersized, so there’s plenty of guys from Florida they could be choosing over me, but I have that tenacity.”

While playing high school ball in Orlando, Williams used this skill set to his advantage. Though he’s the size of a traditional guard at 6’4, the overall lack of height on his squad meant Williams would play in the frontcourt. Not only did he embrace this role, but he excelled, garnering First Team All-State recognition as well as earning multiple scholarship offers from Division I programs

Eventually, Williams did accept an offer to play in college, but it wasn’t for basketball. Instead, for four years at North Carolina State University, Williams was a star wide receiver on the football team.

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“My junior year I played in the Peach Jam, which was a really big event for the top high school basketball players,” said Williams. “I realized from there that I’m average height, I’m not the best dribbler, I’m not the type of guy that can just score or be a freakish athlete…so even though I had a good tournament, I decided I’d go with football.”

Playing as a wide receiver for the Wolfpack, Williams was a force to be reckoned with. Over the course of his career, he caught 133 passes (fifth most in school history) and 20 touchdown receptions (third), many of those coming from Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

After college, Williams played a couple of years in the Arena Football League but eventually settled into a job at a K-8 school in Orange County, Florida. As a behavior specialist, Williams helps children develop critical life skills as well as learn how to excel in the classroom

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“Where these kids are from, the teachers might not understand that their behavior is coming from somewhere,” said Williams. “I just help understand them and redirect them in a way to do better in the classroom environment.”

Williams also finds time to work as a football coach for Parramore Kids Zone, an after-school program that provides sports opportunities for local children in the Orange County area. 

“I have a good relationship with the kids at the school and at the PKZ program because they both go hand-in-hand,” said Williams. “My students go from school, and then my after-school job is at the gym with PKZ, so I’m just with the kids all day.”

Williams played in TBT for Team DRC last summer. The team advanced to the Super 16 after defeating NC Prodigal Sons and Memphis State at the Siegel Center in Richmond. However, it didn’t always look like Williams would be suiting up for the team. In the months leading up to the tournament, Williams was on the Team DRC practice squad. Then, after an impressive defensive display at a Tracy McGrady-hosted tournament in Florida, the team decided to clear a roster spot for Williams.

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Like many of his Team DRC teammates, Williams will make the jump to Florida TNT this summer. The team has purchased a buy-in slot and will play in the Greensboro Regional from July 19-21. Though technically a different team, many of the same coaches as well as half of the roster returns from last year’s squad.

“We’re all from the Orlando area,” said Williams. “Everybody on the team plays pro ball at some level: overseas, NBA, or G-League, and I’m just a man who plays flag football and works.”

Despite this, Williams never looks out of place and has earned the respect of players and coaches alike. Even though he doesn’t play professionally like many of his teammates, they trust him to make an impact with his defense, rebounding, and overall hard-nosed play. 

“People know that when they’re around me they need to have good ball-control, said Williams, “because I’m sneaky. So, that’s how I got my respect, from playing good defense.”

Williams’ extensive experience as a wide receiver has helped him develop this repertoire. In college, he was catching jump balls from Russell Wilson. In TBT, he’s using those same skills to grab rebounds as soon as the ball hits the rim. The same can be said for his speed.

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“In football, we do a lot of footwork at the receiver position, so that helped me with defending and staying in front of the ball," said Williams.  

Even though basketball has become a hobby for Williams, when it comes to TBT, it’s all business.

“This money can give me a good cushion on life and starting a business, buying a home,” said Williams.” I’m also a personal trainer, so with this money I could also open a gym, expand and get more serious with it.”

“Win six games and you split $2 million, added Williams. “How I see it, you can’t ask to be in a better position.”

Photo Credit: NC State Athletics