Former Arizona and pro basketball player Corey Williams stood taller at 6’6″ than the Pizza Hut team he coached in the Tucson Summer Pro League on Sunday at The Gregory School.
The originator and operator of the TSPL — the league stronger than ever in its 14th year of operation — Williams stands tall in many ways on and around the basketball court these days.
Aside from organizing the TSPL annually, Williams serves as a college basketball broadcaster on ESPN, Fox Sports and Pac-12 Network, and he is the vice president of the Crest Insurance Group in Tucson.
His work with the TSPL allows young basketball players in Tucson, from grade school to college level, to mature on the court and stay off the streets during the summer.
Through sponsorship from more than 10 local businesses, players do not have to pay to play. One league is set up for kids generally 11 to 13 years old and the other with adults college age and older.
Williams — who played for Lute Olson from 1992-96 — and former Arizona teammate Joseph Blair are prominent in the media for what they do for young basketball players.
Blair, who heads the Blair Charity Group, conducts the Arizona Basketball Academy that provides more than 1,000 youth annually in the Tucson community the opportunity to be taught and coached basketball free of charge.
Why do Williams (of Batavia, Ill.) and Blair (of Houston) do so much for the community although they are not from Tucson but now reside here?
“Because of the community and the way they support U of A athletics, you get a hometown feel,” Williams said. “You want to give back. I mean, being at Arizona put me in so many different positions.
“Personally, I had a great 12-year career playing after I left Coach Olson. I’ve had some opportunities to come back and do this league. It’s transferred to some sports announcing opportunities for me. So Arizona and Tucson have been good to me. I love it here. That’s why I always do good things for the community.”
Williams’ comments are part of a videotaped interview I was fortunate to have with him following the game he coached Sunday. Included in the following video, Williams talks about the growth of the TSPL, the fertile ground Arizona has become for coaches and broadcasters, and his outlook for the highly-touted 2017-18 Wildcats under Sean Miller.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.