Class of 2011
As a child growing up in Limestone County, excitement for Terry Williams was going to the Fourth of July festival in Triana. He and his family would make the short trip to Triana each year to celebrate America's independence. Little did Williams realize that one day he would be traveling, not to Triana, but to the nearby Huntsville International Airport to board jets that would take him to far-distant lands.
"Basketball allowed me to travel and see places that otherwise I would have never seen," said the 2011 Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame inductee. "Counting college and professional, I played basketball in 42 states here and nine different countries. It was sort of ironic that a teacher in high school tried to get me to take a foreign language course. I refused thinking I would never leave this country. What I didn't know was that one day I would be sitting in an elementary school room class in Paris France watching my daughter being taught."
The 6'10" William's basketball journey began at Elkmont High School where he starred for Coach Lester Smith and the Red Devils. He earned All- Area, All-County and All- State honors while playing at Elkmont. Williams averaged 25 points, 15 rebounds and 4.5 blocked shots per game his senior season and was named to the Alabama Super Five Team. He captained Elkmont's team as a senior and scored a career high 45 points against East Limestone.
"Terry was an unselfish player," said Smith. "He played within the team concept and had a very good career for us. He handled the ball and shot the ball well for a player his size. Terry was a good all-around athlete as well."
It was his senior season that Williams started believing that maybe he could take his basketball talents to the next level. Major college coaches begin to flock to Elkmont to watch the slender forward with the feathery jump shot play and Williams was flooded with scholarship offers. "I was going to initially sign with Auburn because I thought I would have a quicker chance of seeing playing time. But, my parents wanted me to visit Alabama before I signed so I did. Once I visited Tuscaloosa, I knew that was the place for me and I signed with Alabama," said Williams.
The transition to the college game for Williams was challenging. During his first two seasons, Williams was only a part-time player for the Crimson Tide. Williams, however, continued to work hard, added strength and became a big contributor to the Tide's success during his junior and senior seasons.
Williams was the Tide's fourth leading scorer during his junior year and started 18 games for Alabama. It was his junior season that Williams enjoyed what was to be his finest performance in a Crimson Tide uniform. Alabama was playing in the Finals of the Winston Tire Classic in San Francisco, CA., against Georgetown and their All-American center Patrick Ewing. Williams scored 28 points against the Hoyas and hit 14 of 15 shots from the field to lead the Tide to a 94-73 win. "The funny part of that is that I didn't score a point the night before against Southern Cal. So before our game with Georgetown, (former Alabama guard and current UAB men's basketball coach) Mike Davis came up to me and jokingly told me that we needed more points out of our small forward. I hit my first shot against Georgetown and it was just one of those nights that I was in a comfort zone and felt like I couldn't miss. I found a comfortable spot on the floor and our point guard Ennis Whatley kept feeding me the ball and telling me to shoot," said Williams.
The Tide would jump up to number five in the national rankings after their big win over Georgetown but soon would be humbled as they would go on to lose four of their next five games which didn't sit well with Alabama Head Coach Wimp Sanderson. "Coach Sanderson got on us pretty good during that stretch. He really pressed upon us the importance of regardless of whom we were playing, we had to play hard every game," said Williams.
Williams' senior season would be a very good one for him and the Tide. Williams finished the 1983-84 season as Alabama's third leading scorer (14.3 ppg.) and rebounder (4.5 rpg.). Alabama would win 18 games and advance to the NCAA tournament for the third time during Williams Alabama career.
Sanderson says that Williams had a good career at Alabama. "Terry was a good basketball player and he contributed to the success of our program. I'm proud that Terry's being inducted into the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame. I'm excited and pleased for him," said Sanderson.
Williams says he has some fond memories of his days at Alabama. "I played with some good players and good people. Probably my best memory was my sophomore year when we beat Kentucky at Rupp Arena for the SEC Tournament championship," said Williams.
Former Alabama teammate and Houston Rockets standout Buck Johnson says that Williams reminds him of some of the European players playing today in the NBA. "Terry had the length and the outside shooting ability like Dirk Nowitzki and others in the NBA right now. Terry was a great teammate with a good sense of humor. He was a terrific competitor who could really shoot the basketball. He had some good games when I was his teammate at Alabama. The Georgetown game obviously stands out but he played well against Auburn when they had (Charles) Barkley," said Johnson.
Williams would be drafted by the Seattle Supersonics in the NBA draft after his senior season but without a promise of a guaranteed contract, he headed overseas to start his professional career. The first country he played in was Italy. He would play in seven more countries professionally before retiring in 1996. Turkey was the last country he played in. "One of my favorite countries to play in was Israel. Today, you here about all the terrorist activity there but when I played in Israel, all the people were so nice," said Williams.
Williams says he is humbled by the journey that has taken him to be inducted into his home county's hall of fame. "I have a lot of people to thank for this award. My mom was always my best fan. She would come to all of my games and support me. My teammates in both high school and college. My coaches and all the others who helped me in my basketball career. It is a real honor to be recognized by the board of directors for this award," said Williams.