If you’re a college basketball coach and Boo Williams’ phone number isn’t in your Blackberry, then it might be time to consider a career change. Like it or not, much of modern recruiting funnels through the year-around travel leagues orchestrated by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). And when you think of AAU, you think of Boo.
In his 26 years of involvement with AAU Basketball in the Tidewater area, Williams has built a monster. His alumni roster is a “who’s who of hoops”: Allen Iverson, Alonzo Mourning, J.J. Redick, Bryant Stith, and Joe Smith headline a seemingly endless list of luminaries.
His relationship with Virginia Basketball has proven prosperous for the Hoos for decades. Stith, Terry Kirby, Cornell Parker, Elton Brown, and J.R. Reynolds are just a few of the Cavalier standouts who launched their careers under Williams’ guidance.
Sabre columnist Jed Williams has been following Boo Williams’ teams for years and recently caught up with the Hampton native for an in-depth conversation about the history of his program, the future of UVa hoops, and the health of AAU basketball.
JED: For as long as I’ve known you Boo, you’ve had among the most successful AAU programs in the country. But what about when you first started – what was it like then?
Boo: We started in 1982 with 40 kids. AAU and traveling teams weren’t very big at the time, so it began as just a summer league. We had a draft in my mom’s house where we literally drafted kids to summer league teams. I always knew how much talent there was in the area, but when we first started, I never thought it would become this big. Now we’re at almost 2,500 kids, ages 9-18.
JED: So what put the Boo Williams brand on the map?
Boo: When we got J.R. Reid in the program. He was the best player in state, probably in the nation. That gave us instant credibility. It really put our name out there. We started building really good relationships with high school coaches. Then Alonzo Mourning followed. In fact, that 1986 team included Reid, Mourning, and Bryant Stith.
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