Branch: With a tournament like the Old Spice Classic, is it more important to start out fast, or finish strong?

Williams: In basketball you have to get better as you go along, because it’s such a long season. In other words, say you win the Old Spice Classic, all those teams in [the field] will be better when February rolls around and you have to keep that in mind no matter how you play in November. For me, it’s about improving as the season goes on. We’re not like football—the way the BCS is now; you lose a game somewhere early and it hurts your chances all year even though you might be 11 and 1 at the end of the season. So [football] is a little different than [basketball].

Branch: Gary Williams is passionate. But what is your passion?

Williams: My passion is for the kids in high school to understand that so few players even get the opportunity to play in college. Enjoy where you are. If I’m a sophomore in high school I should be having a great time as a sophomore in high school—not worrying about what school I should go to or whatever. I should just be a sophomore in high school. If I’m a college player, very few players even get the chance to play college basketball, enjoy the moment. And if you’re good enough, the things will happen where the NBA will be there and things like that but along the way, get as much education as you can because there will come a day when you need the education. I don’t care how much money you make, at age 35 there has to be something else out there that you have a passion for besides basketball—unless you get into coaching or something like that. That’s where a lot of these kids fall down because all of a sudden basketball is taken away from them and they haven’t really created another thing that’s important in their lives. So hopefully guys get that message.

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