V.I.'s WIlliams trying to close out his college career well with TCU

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ST. THOMAS - Craig Williams is one of the few U.S. Virgin Islands basketball players to ever come home, put on his college jersey and compete at the annual Paradise Jam tournament at the University of Virgin Islands.

The St. Croix native was a standout center at Central High School and also spent time with the USVI senior men's basketball team.

Before his Texas Christian University squad took on Ole Miss in the tournament's consolation game Monday, I caught up with the 6-foot-9, 240-pound native son.

How do you think TCU has performed in this tournament?

I think we've done pretty well. We just slipped up on that last game. It's still very early in the season and we're still coming together, so to come down here and play positively has been an accomplishment.

Beyond this tournament, what can we expect from the Horned Frogs this season?

Great things. Just lots of great things. I wasn't here last year, but from what I was told, we had a few struggles last year. We play in a tough conference and I know everyone on this team wants to prove we're a different team compared to last season. Coming out of this tournament, I think we're on the right track.

You're a senior now, so talk about what your role is with this team?

I need to be a positive factor. So far, I've been coming off the bench and I've been pulling down rebounds and scoring some points. I've been listening to my coaches. Whatever I can do to make this team better, I'm all for it.

You started at Temple, what brought you to TCU?

It's kind of a long story. To make it a little shorter, let's just say things didn't work out with Tulane. I went to Temple for four years but things didn't work out for Tulane with the whole transfer process. I got a little hook-up to come out to Texas and it's been a long road, but I'm very glad to be here. This is my last year of athletic eligibility, so I want to finish out strong here.

You're from the V.I. and got to play in this tournament. Talk about what that honor is like?

It's been great. Looking up and seeing your family and friends in the stands has been an amazing experience. It's something I really haven't experienced in my college career until now. The past six days has been a dream come true.

Are you staying with family or your team? What about your day off?

I've been staying with the team, but I definitely have caught up with my family, too. The other guys from the team have sort of looked to me because this is home, so my family has been a big part of our stay. On our day off, we just went to the beach together and hung out.

Are the islands like you remember them?

Yeah, I'm always on St. Thomas. I've got a lot of family here and I'm still very familiar with the area. It's still cool. We also have a guy from the Bahamas on the team - J.R. Cadot - and we're real tight. It's nice to have other Caribbean players on the team. Nate Butler is from Puerto Rico, too.

When did you starting playing ball?

It started back here when I was living on St. Croix. It was a long time ago, I'm talking about the Biddy Leagues. Played all four years at Central High and had a great time there. Graduated and then I went to Temple for four years. Graduated from there and now I'm getting my Master's degree.

Did you always know you wanted to play college basketball and how did you get to be so big?

Every since I first touched a basketball, I knew I wanted to play at the next level. As for my size, I'm not sure. I guess it skipped a few generations.

What does your future look like?

Right now, I'm in the liberal arts program, but I want to get my Master's degree in criminal justice and move on from that. I eventually want to enter that field but I also want to try and play basketball after this. I've played for the USVI men's team so I'm used to playing overseas and in other countries.

- Contact sports writer Aaron Gray at 774-8772 ext. 352 or email agray@dailynews.vi.

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