T-Will rides game-high 32 to MVP in Derby Classic

University of Louisville fans should know after watching Terrence Williams score 32 points and earn MVP honors in the 2005 adidas Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic that the 6-5 Seattle native can hoop.

University of Louisville fans should know after watching Terrence Williams score 32 points and earn MVP honors in the 2005 adidas Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic that the 6-5 Seattle native can hoop.

Besides his game-high scoring output, Williams also took home the slam-dunk contest title with a perfect score at halftime of Saturday night's classic.

So how's it feel to come to Louisville and play so well in front of the U of L fans?

"It feels wonderful," said Williams. "I hope the (fans) think that I can play now, at least a little bit. I hope they think I'm serious, and that I'm a competitive guy and a leader."

Williams sounded overwhelmed by the reception he, and the other four Louisville signees received from the more than 10,000 fans – mostly clad in red and black - in attendance. And for a young man that is usually never lost for words, Williams was nearly speechless in the locker room following the game trying to express the emotions he felt after the outpouring of support from Louisville fans.

"I love Freedom Hall," Williams said. "I didn't expect anything like this. It feels great to come out and get the type of applause I got from everybody. I'm speechless right now to be honest with you. I don't know what to say."

While he heard plenty about the U of L fans and their passionate support for their beloved Cardinals during the recruiting process, Williams didn't fully comprehend what it meant to play hoops in the Bluegrass. He does now.

"You've got to do a reality check and pinch yourself to see if it's really true," said Williams. "You see stuff like this and you hear about it but you don't really believe it. Now I believe it about how the fans are."

You'd think Williams would have been ecstatic after scoring 32 points, slamming home multiple alley-oops, and winning the dunk contest title. But he wasn't. He was more concerned that his team fell 136-125 to the Gold Team.

"I came out to play hard and hopefully to get a win," said Williams. "Even if I scored 50 points, we still lost. I don't care about the individual stuff, I hate losing to be honest with you. But the overall experience was great. I'm glad I made the trip. I actually sent my forms in late, and I thank God that I did. It feels great."

Always ready for a good time, Williams had plenty while in town this weekend. There was the unique rendition of happy birthday that he sang to a Derby Festival staffer at Friday's Night of the Future of Stars. And who could forget his entrance Saturday night when he got down on the Freedom Hall floor and kissed the Cardinal logo at mid-court. Sure he enjoys having fun, but there's also a seriously competitive side lurking beneath that jovial front.

"I'm serious when it's game time," Williams said. "But when it's time to joke around, I can be the biggest one joking with you."

Oh, and before we forget. That second dunk in the dunk contest was the ‘Cardinal,' right?

"Between the legs and backwards," Williams confirmed.

Forget the 32 points. Forget all the impossible dunks he slams through. Here's all you need to know about Williams. Black team coach Lloyd Gardner couldn't say enough positive things about Williams afterwards.

"He never lets you get down," Gardner said. "He has so much energy, and athletic ability, and I've never seen a kid want to come to Louisville so bad. Every time you pass him, all he talks about is the Cardinals, the Cardinals, U of L. He's an unbelievable kid to be around. He's a gentleman, and he gave my grandson his jersey. You don't know what that meant to me."

"He's a class-act, and I wish him all the luck in the world."


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