Monday, June 15, 2009

Off-Season Update: An Interview with CJ WILLIAMS

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Pack sophomore C.J. Williams. We talked with him about his first year at NC State University, what he’s up to this off-season and what to expect for the coming year. Here’s how it went down:

WPH: The fans got to know you on the court this past season, but can you tell us a little bit about C.J. Williams off the court?

C.J.: Off the court I really spend a lot of time by myself. I spend time with my teammates too, but I just like to hang out, you know, play video games.

WPH: Really? What type of video games do you play?

C.J.: I actually have all the systems, but actually my Xbox360 just got stolen from my house, but I still have the PS3, the Wii and actually out here I have the Gamecube, haha.

WPH: So other than workouts and video games what have you been up to this offseason?

C.J.: Well, right now I’m working the Sidney Lowe Team Basketball Camp. I’m doing the scoreboard and stats. It’s basically a camp for high school teams. They come up here and play against each other .

WPH: Ok cool... Well lets talk a little bit about your basketball career and let’s take it back to your Junior year of high school. You’re averaging 26 points per game, your name was getting pretty hot on the recruiting circuit, a lot of coaches are starting to take notice and then you get hurt. Now, not many people are aware of the severity of this injury. Can you talk about this a little bit?

C.J.: Yeah, well actually at first it was misdiagnosed. They first thought it was a pulled hamstring and they treated it for that. It didn’t get better, so then I went to get another opinion and they said it was a pinched nerve, and that wasn’t it either. Finally, I found a doctor that knew what it was. It’s actually called the sacroiliac joint, the SI joint. It’s a joint in your back that when you jump, it bears all your weight. That joint was actually out of place and they say if that joint is only 1/16th of an inch off, you’ll be on a pain scale of a 9. In my case the bones were actually stacked on top of each other. The pain would shoot from my buttocks all the way to my knee so I had to get surgery.

WPH: And how did an injury like this even occur? Was it basketball related?

C.J.: What had happened was that I was in the weight room lifting and I had just jerked the wrong way. I actually didn’t feel it until the next morning when I got out of bed and literally couldn’t stand up. It was from years of not really stretching before games.

WPH: So at what point did you finally recover and feel like you were 100%?

C.J.: It really wasn’t until half way through my senior year that I actually felt 100%. It was a game against 71st, after that I felt real good. I even missed a few games that season because of the pain in my back but I played most of the season at about 70%.

WPH: So coming into college, was there anything that surprised you about the level of competition? For instance, the speed of the game or the strength of the players?

C.J.: To be honest what surprised me was how close I was to being able to compete on that level. I used to look at some of these guys and think, “It’d be so hard to be like them.” And I mean it is, you have to work out and eat healthy, but I didn’t realize how talented I really was until I got here. When I started competing against guys like Wayne Ellington and Rakhim Sanders from Boston College, I started to be like, "hey I’m right there." I’m not far off from being as good as these guys. That was the most shocking thing, but physically the strength was the biggest difference between high school and college.

WPH: What about off the court? How hard was it to walk right in and balance playing for a top flight D-1 basketball program, going to class, and having a life?

C.J.: It really is a full time job. I wake up in the morning and I have an 8 o'clock class, and when I leave for that class I won’t see my room again until 10pm. It’s like a full time job. It’s probably actually more than a full time job. You spend time in class then tutoring then study hall then practice. It’s kind of hard to learn how to balance your time, but you get the hang of it. I got the hang of it during the spring semester. It’s something that at first weighs on your mind a lot. I have to go to practice, I have to go to class, but after a while you develop that internal strength to get through the day.

WPH: So, coming into next season Coach Lowe is going to have a team of mainly all his players. Do you think there is going to be any difference? Did you ever see a difference between the guys coach brought in and the guys that he inherited?

C.J.: Probably the biggest difference between this team and last years team is that you see a lot more guys working out on there own. There were guys that did that last year, but not as many. I mean, every day you see Javi, Johnny, me, Julius, Dennis, Tracy in the gym. Now we are all working out but it’s on our own. One is shooting, one is lifting, one might be relaxing and then we have a little chain going. When one person is done shooting someone else will go shoot and another person will go fill his spot in the weight room. It’s just that there are a lot more guys taking it upon themselves to get better. I really like that and I like that idea and I think because of that, things are definitely going to change.

WPH: So speaking of next year’s team, can you talk about your relationship off the court? Is this a pretty tight knit group?

C.J.: We are, we really are. As a matter of fact, a few days ago Javi, Johnny and I went to the movies and we actually ran into Brandon Costner there too, so we were all there together and stuff. It was cool. We watched “The Hangover” which is a very funny movie. Haha…a VERY funny movie! But, yeah we hang out a bunch together, we play video games and just do typical guy stuff, you know.

WPH: So in a lot of interviews Coach Lowe has been referring to you and Julius as leaders on this coming year’s team. You’re only about to be a sophomore and you’re being called a leader of a big time ACC basketball school. How does that make you feel and what is it that you do that gets coaches attention as a leader?

C.J.: It gives me confidence. Julius and I, we’re younger guys and to know that Coach Lowe trusts us gives us a lot of confidence. Julius is a great player and a very efficient player. That’s what I try to do as well, just do things the right way. We don’t take a lot of chances and we don’t do things we know we can’t do. That probably got coaches attention. That and our attention to detail, I like to look at every aspect of our plays and see what works and what doesn’t and if I have a suggestion, like going off a screen a different way, I bring it to Coach Lowe and if he likes it, or it works, then we add it in the play. Overall, I think it’s our attention to detail and our basketball IQ that coach notices.

WPH: Do you see yourself playing more of the 2 or the 3 next season?

C.J.: I think I can play both, more of a combo. I think at about 6’5, 200lbs, I can guard the 3, but I can also go out and I feel like I’m quick enough to guard the 2. I’m just going to prepare for both, because I’ll play anywhere.

WPH: No matter where you play you’re surely going to be an important piece to this year’s team and a major contributor. Is there anything specifically that Coach has you working on or that you feel you need to improve on before you take on that role?

C.J.: Yeah, definitely. My ball handling is something that I need to work on. I mean, I don’t think it’s a weakness, but it was something that I was not completely comfortable with last year and this year I’ll have the ball in my hands more. Last year I shot a lot of 3’s. Actually, my Dad and I looked back at it and over half my shots were 3’s. That really isn’t my game. I love to attack the hoop and hit the mid range jumper. I want to be able to do that this season and improving my ball handling will certainly help that.

WPH: Last question. With the #11 recruiting class coming in next season and a really good core group of returning players, where do you see this team going? What goals do you have for this team? And try not to give me a record, because someone did that a couple years back and um... it didn’t work out so well.

C.J.: Haha, yeah, no, I know. Um I just think that we’ll have a very talented team and we can compete with any team that we play, no matter where we play them. I think we have the players and the talent to do that. We just have to keep working hard and stay mentally tough. I know it’s nearly impossible to win every game, but that is the mindset we have to have. Sometimes the ball will bounce your way and sometimes it won’t, but as long as you’re in the game you have a chance. This is a team that’s going to work hard and compete.

WPH: That’s good to hear. Well, we really thank you for your time C.J. and wish you luck this coming season.

C.J.: Thank you.


41 Responses to "Off-Season Update: An Interview with CJ WILLIAMS"
  1. 74Doug said...
    June 15, 2009 at 9:45 AM

    Love it. The starting line up will probably come from the guys he said are in the gym every day; Tracy, Dennis, CJ, Javi, Julius and Johnny. Maybe a freshman too but we should see a big improvement in this bunch.

  2. Anonymous said...
    June 15, 2009 at 9:51 AM

    awesome interview. you guys never cease to amaze me.

  3. Eric said...
    June 15, 2009 at 9:59 AM

    Great interview. It's good to hear the work being put in to make this team better. It's also great to hear how CJ knows his strengths and is working on his opportunities. I look forward to watching CJ round out his game by attacking the basket and hitting the mid-range jumper.

    It will be great watching this team next year. I think we will make plenty of mistakes, but the hustle and hard work will pay off.

    Thanks again, WPH.

  4. Corey said...
    June 15, 2009 at 10:07 AM

    I'm sure I said this last year also and will say it again next year. I'm really looking forward to the basketball season next year.

  5. Anonymous said...
    June 15, 2009 at 10:10 AM

    Someone stole my man's Xbox? Come on! He could have stayed in Fayetteville if he wanted to get robbed!


  6. Werewolf in Franklinton said...
    June 15, 2009 at 10:18 AM

    Interesting comments regarding team leadership. Mays is really a player I can see stepping up and filling that leadership role. He showed a lot of poise and coolness under pressure last year especially knocking down that three at the buzzer in OT against Miami. I never understood why he didn't get minutes the last 8 games of the season IMO Mays was better and more in control than Farnold.

  7. Anonymous said...
    June 15, 2009 at 10:33 AM

    With Javi now getting to the cup and finishing lay-ups I don't really see Farnold getting into the rotation this year barring an injury. Him blowing out his knee really set back his career. It sucks...he took it like a man though.


  8. SeeMeRedSeeMeWhite said...
    June 15, 2009 at 10:34 AM

    Great questions, great interview.

    When are we going to see the T shirts?

  9. HaveYouHuggedYourWolfToday? said...
    June 15, 2009 at 10:37 AM

    On the radio interview last season, CJ was an articulate, well-spoken young man. This is an area of leadership where he could step up. Will he be a go-to guy for media interviews as NCSU gets more national attention over the next couple of years?

  10. Wolfpack Hoops said...
    June 15, 2009 at 10:42 AM

    ^ He is a great guy and is very easy to interview. He is well spoken, smart and funny. All I can say is that I really hope everyone is starting to see a difference in the players that Sidney is recruiting. There is no "me" players on this roster and I, for one, believe that you can have all the talent in the world but if you do not have smart, team players, then you will not be as successful as you could be.

  11. Werewolf in Franklinton said...
    June 15, 2009 at 10:44 AM


    I agree about Farnold, He was becoming a solid PG before his injury. When he came back he was never the same player. Mays will hopefully be able to log most of the minutes backing up Javi.

  12. j.sol said...
    June 15, 2009 at 10:50 AM

    it's such a good sign to hear how hard these guys are pushing each other in the off-season. they're establishing a new culture of hard work and full support of each other and it'll soon pay off. great interview. i'm excited about football, but man, i can't wait til basketball season comes back around.

  13. Rufftown Wolf said...
    June 15, 2009 at 10:57 AM

    Great stuff WHPs. CJ will contribute next year. I like his comments about being surprised about being able to compete at this level. The first step to competing at a high level is to know you can.. Good to hear these guys are working their butts off this off season, this will set the tone for when the new guys are coming in. It doesn't sound like any of those guys are ready to just hand over their minutes..

  14. nashvillepack said...
    June 15, 2009 at 11:05 AM

    Great interview WPH. You can tell that CJ is a solid program player. I hope his transition from freshman to sophomore is a great one.

  15. Wolfpack Hoops said...
    June 15, 2009 at 11:09 AM

    We'll unveil the top 5 T-Shirts later this week. Then we'll allow voting. We have one T-shirt, designed by us, that is simple and inexpensive. We will have that one for sale, but we also want to get another one for people who want more of a design, which is why we'll be voting.

  16. Jeff said...
    June 15, 2009 at 11:09 AM

    Not to jummp off topic, but thought people would be interested in this entry by ESPN today:

    ESPNU 100 Mychal Parker has Terps at the top

    According to ESPN affiliate website, ESPNU 100 shooting guard Mychal Parker attended Maryland's elite camp over the weekend and came away listing the Terps as his top choice.

    "They really are at the top of my list, they're really number one really," Parker said. "I'll make my list in the middle of July but Maryland is in good position now.

    The staff was really, really, really, really good. I really enjoyed myself there--coach [Chuck] Driesell, coach [Gary] Williams and coach [Keith] Booth did a really good job." Parker, who is also considering Miami, Clemson, Virginia and N.C. State, Wake Forest and Kentucky, is not expected to make his decision anytime soon.

    The Terps are off to a great start in the 2010 class with commitments from two ESPNU 100 prospects, Terrence Ross (Portland, Ore./Montrose Christian) and Terrell Stoglin (Tucson, Ariz./Santa Rita).

  17. Wolfpack Hoops said...
    June 15, 2009 at 11:24 AM

    Be assured. If NC State offers, they'll jump to near the top of that list in a hurry.

  18. Afterglow said...
    June 15, 2009 at 12:20 PM

    Any word on Johnny Thomas and how he is doing? I get this sinking feeling that he's done.

  19. Anonymous said...
    June 15, 2009 at 12:24 PM

    What a great kid. It's people like C.J. that really have the heart of Jim Valvano. "We just have to put ourselves in a position to win." I LOVE IT!! GO PACK!

  20. Jeff said...
    June 15, 2009 at 12:35 PM

    Good to hear, WPH.

  21. Wolfpack Hoops said...
    June 15, 2009 at 12:44 PM

    From all accounts, Johnny is working out hard in order to be ready for the coming season. If you ask me, my guess would be that the staff wants to see how his knee reacts this year after a full offseason of training and rehab. If it still is not 100% after this season, I wouldn't be surprised if he got a medical hardship. That is just speculation and I really hope it doesn't come down to that, but if in year 3 he can't go, then I'm not really sure he'll ever be ready.

  22. Werewolf in Franklinton said...
    June 15, 2009 at 12:54 PM


    I read that article too and the quotes from Parker sound suspiciously similar to the quotes from MD committ Terrence Ross ie, over use of the word "really". Not questioning the integrity of anyone at InsideMDSports or anything, just saying.

  23. Afterglow said...
    June 15, 2009 at 1:15 PM

    I hope things work out for him. A medical hardship is a sour pill to swallow but more over, it would be tough to not be able to do the thing you love. That's what I call life's hardship.

    We're all rooting for you Johnny.

  24. Werewolf in Franklinton said...
    June 15, 2009 at 2:50 PM

    Jeff Teauge is not coming back to WF YAY!!!!

    Now if only Vasquez stays gone too.

  25. Jose said...
    June 15, 2009 at 3:41 PM

    Best interview to date- I've liked a bunch before and always appreciative of the interview aspect you bring here- but this one was very complete and supports the idea that Wolfpack bball is on the upswing.

    I loved hearing that CJ tries to breakdown the sets Coach Lowe draws up. One of the things I hear Coach Lowe bring up on occasions is that he really just wants "basketball players" who can read and react to game situations better then the other guy. That means that sets and mismatches will continue to be applied but it is up to each player to adapt his game to those sets to best be productive.

    Also loved the comments about efficiency and that he looks to Julius as a prime example.

  26. thedenistystartsnow said...
    June 15, 2009 at 4:57 PM

    The starting lineup I think next year either javi or julious at 1.. Lorenzo 2 scott wood 3 tracy 4 painer 5

  27. Anonymous said...
    June 15, 2009 at 5:07 PM

    ^ the denisty?

  28. 74Doug said...
    June 15, 2009 at 5:19 PM

    Sounds like a toothy tradition.

  29. Brass Monkey said...
    June 15, 2009 at 5:56 PM

    I think CJ will do well at either the 2 or the 3 position, but if I could have my way I'd have him at the 3 and have Lorenzo at the 2. You gotta find the way to get your best ballplayers on the court, and CJ and Lorenzo should be two of our better players next year and for years to come.

    NC State Basketball Tradition

  30. redfred said...
    June 15, 2009 at 6:45 PM

    It's a shame but I cannot which ones were individually recognized just a month or so ago, but wasn't CJ one of the BB players who were recognized for outstanding work in the classroom?

    Note: I could say a whole lot more on this topic, about the entire BB team's great accomplishment in academics, and how something like that almost ALWAYS reflects really well on the Head Coach in particular. But not in this instance, and especially not on some of the other NEGATIVE NC State sites, Sidney Lowe isn't given being any credit for any of it.

    Why that is, I do not know.

  31. Afterglow said...
    June 15, 2009 at 7:11 PM

    redfred-I think the other site you refer to has its positives. I enjoy visiting it quite a bit and will continue to frequent it once football and basketball kick in. I think people have opinions and I for one always find those perspectives interesting whether I agree with them or not. I will admit at times people seemed to get overly involved with their emotions but in the end we all bleed wolfpack red and all want the same thing. In any event, I think you should let it go.

  32. Werewolf in Franklinton said...
    June 15, 2009 at 8:26 PM


    Last season CJ was award the Valvano award not sure if that considers academics or leadership or what.

    Julius was voted Best Teamate by the team. I think Julius reacived some type of Outstanding Scholar Athlete award as well

  33. Anonymous said...
    June 15, 2009 at 8:50 PM

    He won the Jimmy V Coaches Award @ the annual year-end banquet.

    It takes into account team loyalty, dedication to school, and "an attitude and spirit that inspires his teammates to never give up".

  34. Anonymous said...
    June 15, 2009 at 8:51 PM

    6 guys were given the scholar athlete award (3.0+ GPA), including CJ, Johnny and Julius.

  35. Afterglow said...
    June 15, 2009 at 9:18 PM

    I can't imagine the type of dedication you have to put forth on the court alone. It must be crazy. Further more, to find the energy and have the mental discipline and where with all to also do well in school is amazing to me. I struggled in college and I tried my @$$ off but can't fathom for a second trying to fit in the aforementioned hardwood devotion that these young men put forth.

    From the interview, it sounds like CJ encompasses all of this.


  36. Anonymous said...
    June 15, 2009 at 9:21 PM

    I would love to start seeing some guards attacking the basket more and creating some other opportunities... Lately our team has just seemed to catch the ball and pass it around... Javi had some nice attacks but we need a 2 or 3 doing this as well

  37. Afterglow said...
    June 15, 2009 at 10:48 PM

    I can totally see that (guards attacking) happening this year. Lorenzo Brown has been playing the point (I believe) and so has Scott Wood. How that translates to their college game? Time will only tell. But it's perfectly conceivable to think that we'll see more from Javi and now CJ and that one of the freshmen-if not both-will step up. It will be interesting to see how the players responded to the off season. Plus, I don’t know… it may just be the space in between this and last year; but I’ve got a good feeling both about the attitude this team has and about the freshmen class coming in.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go take a cold shower to temper expectations.

  38. Anonymous said...
    June 16, 2009 at 8:11 AM

    Red Fred
    They attack Sid on those other sites because they are envious of Sid and his success and rise to the top!

  39. Anonymous said...
    June 16, 2009 at 10:18 AM

    Anon, I think there are a few over there that are jealous of Sid, but I think there are some that are just negative. It has been a while since the Pack really had CONSISTENT success in basketball & the mindset of "here we go again" is easy. I believe that SID is doing a GREAT job & though it is slower than some like, he will get 'er done! After all, SID had a MASTER Coach/Teacher that he played under!

  40. Anonymous said...
    June 16, 2009 at 10:32 AM

    It has only been 4 years that is not all that long and the big man will get it done! true that!

  41. j.sol said...
    June 17, 2009 at 12:17 AM

    ^^exactly. not only did he play for 2 of the greatest coaches in nc state history in jimmy v and norm sloan, but also one of the greatest high school coaches in morgan wootten (and you were probably referring to this legend), who the "wizard of westwood" was talking about when he said "I know of no finer coach at any level - high school, college or pro. I stand in awe of him.".

    ALL of these great coaches that coach lowe has played for have spoken very highly of him and always referred to him as the "coach on the floor" in the truest sense. i have all the faith in the world that he will get it done here and we're seeing a change already in the attitudes of the players heading into next season. he will endure and those other websites will soon turn their attitude around as well. i think a lot of people are still under-estimating the cj williams and julius mays class. their names just keep on popping up in talks about practice and working hard in the offseason. i have a very good feeling that we're going to surprise a lot of people next year and the guys we got coming in is just icing on the cake.


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