Munford senior center Jayson Williams is a busy guy. He works multiple days a week as a lifeguard at the YMCA in Millington while still managing to attend games and practices and maintain a 3.9 grade point average. He’s usually the tallest player on the court, but that wasn’t always the case. He was just 5-11 before growing a few inches every year to reach his current height. I sat down with Williams last week to find out a little more about him.
Q: How tall are you?
Q: How often to strangers randomly ask, “Hey, do you play basketball?”
A: Every time I’m out in public. At my job, going to the grocery store, getting fast food. Every time they see me they ask.
Q: Do you usually give a simple answer?
A: I’ll say yeah and they follow up with, “How tall are you?”
Q: Are your parents tall?
A: No, no one in my family is tall. My dad is 5-11 and my mom is 5-3.
Q: Have you always been the tallest player on your team?
A: No. In middle school I was maybe 5-9, my freshman year I was 5-11. Every year since then I’ve shot up two or three inches every summer.
Q: So you were 5-11 going into high school?
A: Yep, I was 5-11 at tryouts.
Q: Do you model your game after a particular college or professional player?
A: I like (Houston Rockets player) Clint Capela because he plays his role. He plays defense and runs the floor. Nothing too complex. He just plays his role.
Q: What’s something you think the average person does not understand about what it takes to play basketball at this level?
A: They think it’s an option that you can skip practices and choose when you can come. If practice is from 2 to 4 you have to get there 30 minutes early to shoot around a little bit and stay after.
Q: How many hours a day do you spend on your phone?
A: A school day?
Q: Yeah, let’s go with a school day.
A: Maybe three hours.
Q: What about on a Saturday when you don’t have a game or work?
A: Probably five.
Q: What’s your favorite social media?
Q: Do think social media, in general, is a positive or negative thing?
A: It’s both. The positive is you can put yourself out there more, get more exposure, especially with sports. Negative … I feel like with social media people worry too much about what people think about you. Everyone can give opinions and sometimes it’s not the best opinion.
Q: What’s a food you can’t stand?
A: Tuna. I hate tuna.
Q: What’s your favorite food?
A: Hot wings.
Q: I know your team won the district last year. This year’s been a little different after losing a lot of starters to graduation and losing more games. What’s that been like?
A: We’re young so we’re not very consistent. We’re trying to be more consistent in games and practices. With young guys, and some of the older guys, they haven’t played a lot of varsity basketball.
Q: I know you missed some games last year with an injury. What was it like having to sit back and watch during a pretty special season?
A: It helped me learn to sit back and learn what we needed to do to win. It sucked not being able to play on the championship team, but being a part of that and knowing that I helped them out, it still felt good.
Q: Who’s the funniest or goofiest player on the team?
A: Has to be between Jermal (Harvey) and T.J. (Buford). T.J.’s the goofiest but Jermal is the funniest with jokes.
Q: What kind of jokes does Jermal make?
A: He’ll act really dumb. If we’re in a serious heated argument and somebody says a metaphor, he’ll take it literally, dumb it down and we’ll all laugh.
Q: What’s the last movie you saw?
A: “Coach Carter.”
Q. If you could have any car, what would it be?
A: A Lamborghini
Q: Let’s play a little word association. Covington?
Q: Dyer County?
Q: What’s a word or phrase that coach Ryan Ross says a lot?
A: Tough times don’t last, tough people do.
Q: Coach Ross is probably one of the more animated coaches I’ve ever seen. What’s that like and do you remember the first time you saw him coach a game?
A: I’m used to coaches just sitting back. What goes on during the game goes on. He never sits down, at all. Any time he gets mad a piece of clothing will go off. He’ll rip his jacket off, he’ll rip his tie off, unbutton his shirt. He sweats a lot, too. Every time you look up and he’s screaming, you look at his armpits and they’re drenched all the way down. It took a while to get used to it but now it’s a normal thing.
Q: I know you make good grades. How hard is it to balance basketball and school?
A: Senior year it helps because you don’t have as many hard classes. But junior year I was working, playing basketball and I had a lot of homework. You just can’t slack off.