Terrence Williams has received a lot of positive national press this week for blocking Lebron James' shot during a pickup game on Tuesday at the Skills Academy which bears the NBA star's name. CBS, Fox Sports and The Courier-Journal have all mentioned the event, which has become a fun offseason conversation piece.
It's always nice to see good kids get good ink, but what I hope T-Will takes away most from this whole experience is that consistently keeping talented scorers from putting the ball in the basket is his meal ticket.
Let's face facts, defense isn't cool. We all learned this at a very early age. It was the fat coach who yelled a lot, didn't seem like he could locate Kentucky on a map, and said nothing but "get your hands up" during games who first attached the stigma.
It was this man who single-handedly inspired me to spend an entire season standing outside of the three-point line when we had the ball, and cherry picking at midcourt when we didn't. If keeping people from scoring was this lame, you could consider me Jerome Harmon.
But we're all growns-up now and we're talking about all growns-up money. Defense becomes a lot cooler when it sets you, your family and your future generations up for life. Bruce Bowen is busy being uncool on some tropical island right now.
I'm not sure if Williams watched last month's NBA Draft, but if he did he should have come away inspired.
The top three picks were a given. Rose, Beasley and Mayo are all once in a blue moon talents, blessed with natural ability so great that their fate had been set in stone for years. But with no obvious standout among the remaining available players, things got interesting at pick four.
Russell Westbrook spent most of his sophomore season being considered the third or fourth best player on his team, averaging 12.3 ppg on a squad headed by Pac-10 Player of the Year Kevin Love. This was a giant step up from a freshman season where he averaged just nine minutes and 3.4 ppg.
It seems absurd that this could be the same player the Sonics would select with that fourth pick, but what ultimately sold the franchise was both Westbrook's ridiculous athleticism and the fact that the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year was easily the best on-ball defender in the draft.
If Williams and Westbrook appear similar to you, it's probably because you have fully functioning eyes. Both are well built, extremely athletic, solid ballhandlers, great passers and owners of spotty jump shots.
So why is one preparing for his senior year in college while the other just inked a deal that promises to pay him $6 million over the next two years?
Well, two reasons really:
1) Westbrook led his team to the Final Four.
2) In the process, he earned the reputation of being one of the best defenders in the country, if not the best.
I know T-Will has all sorts of people in his ear telling him what he wants to hear whenever he wants to hear it, and I know Scottie from his sociology course lets him know every Tuesday and Thursday that he's got the lottery on lock, but the fact of the matter is that if Williams has another season on par with his performance in 2007-2008 - which, I think we can all agree, was pretty stellar - he's not going to be a first round draft pick.
NBA teams can overlook a below average jump shot (hi Rajon) so long as you balance things out by being exceptional in another specialty area. And being super athletic doesn't really fit that mold, since in the league it's actually more of a requirement than it is a highly sought-after attribute.
Anyone who's followed Louisville basketball closely for the last three years knows that Williams is a great defender, but what T-Will has to do this season is make the people who can put seven figures next to his name believe that he's a tremendous defender.
Get those hands up, young man.