Williams back for Dr Pepper

Williams back for Dr Pepper

December 29th, 2011 by David Uchiyama in Sports

Dr Pepper Classic

McKenzie Arena


4:30 -- Hampton vs. Utah Valley

7 -- UTC vs. Longwood


4:30 -- Consolation game

7 -- Championship game

Jasper Williams called McKenzie Arena his home gym for two years.

He used to share a bathroom with current University of Tennessee at Chattanooga point guard Keegan Bell, who deemed those quarters as "disgusting."

Despite his lasting friendship with Bell -- the two talk several times a week -- Williams decided to transfer out of the UTC basketball program in March 2010, following his sophomore season.

"I don't think the situation was for me," said Williams, who got a SoCon championship ring in 2009. "I would recommend anybody to come to Chattanooga, but I don't think it was for Jasper.

"Things are going good. I'm happy."

Williams will back playing basketball in the Roundhouse tonight and Friday. He now starts for Hampton, which will face Utah Valley in the opening game of the Dr Pepper Classic today at 4:30 p.m.

The Mocs will face Longwood at 7. The losers will play Friday at 4:30 in a consolation game, and the winners will play for the championship following that contest.

"This tournament is hard to fill because of the exempt tournaments, and this costs everybody two games," UTC coach John Shulman said. "It is a field where I would say all four teams are capable of winning it."

Williams arrived in McKenzie Arena for the first time in nearly two years Wednesday, when he suited up for Pirates practice.

"I don't have any bad blood," said Williams, who is averaging 7.8 points per game. "When I see Shulman, I'm going to give him the biggest hug he's ever seen. We had a special relationship. He's a great man and taught me a lot of things about off the court."

Williams spent two years playing point guard and shooting guard for UTC. He continuously went through the revolving door to Shulman's doghouse, resulting in two years of highs and lows.

"It was like any other relationship with a coach when there are great times and bad times," Shulman said. "Once you get through the wars, you have a special bond with those kids.

"I remember him hitting a big 3 on the last option of a play to beat Appalachian State, and there's a private moment we shared after we beat Charleston. Those things mean the world to you as a coach."

Williams chopped off his dreadlocks shortly after leaving UTC and says he's matured since landing at the Virginia school. He's gone from an old boy to a young man.

"We call each other brothers from another mother, and it's good that he's back in town," said Bell, who understands Williams' move because he transferred to UTC from Vanderbilt. "It's going to be weird seeing him in here in another jersey.

"He has the tats and had the dreads, which leads to people thinking he's tough or mean, but he's a caring and loving guy and was the jokester of the group."

Bell likely will catch the first half of Williams' game against Utah Valley. Then he and the Mocs will get ready for their game against Longwood.

UTC, which is already without starting forward Chris Early, will likely be without senior forward Jahmal Burroughs, who injured his right thumb in practice on Tuesday.

"I'd say he's highly questionable at best," Shulman said. "Guys are going to have to step up and play."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.