Thursday, March 17, 2011

Q&A with The Masked Dunker; "We like DC. We want to stay until Saturday."

If you follow B.I.A.H. then you know we have a slight-fascination with dunks, slams, rim-rockers, gym-jammers and everything in between.

Over the course of the season, no dunker has captured our awe and amazement like UNC-Asheville's John Williams, also known as @JumpinJohnny21 and "The Masked Dunker", has. The senior forward is the school's all-time leader in blocked shots -- third in Big South History -- despite being only 6-foot-4. He has scored over 1,000 points in his college career and has been featured on SportsCenter's "Top Plays" more than five times.

Oh, and get this: in high school he lettered in basketball, crew, soccer, and golf.

Yeah. John Williams is a well-rounded athlete. (I'm not going to tell you what his handicap is compared to mine.) I'm no theologian, but people say that "God has a plan for everyone", and maybe they were right.

Because UNC-Asheville's first second round game, against No. 1 Pittsburgh, takes place in Washington DC, which just so happens to the hometown of B.I.A.H headquarters.

So naturally, it made sense that we tracked down Williams so we could try to understand how a human being is able to do the type of things he does:

Ballin' is a Habit: Talk to me a bit about the mask. Was it hard to get comfortable with it at first? Did it alter you approach towards dunking at all?

John Williams: At first, yeah, especially with peripherals. It was really hard to adjust to seeing angles and sides, catching the ball when I was trying to post up. But it's something I had to get used to. I had to learn to see where the ball might go. I had to almost foresee when the ball was coming and where it was going.

BIAH: Are you still wearing the mask? During the Arkansas-Little Rock game you weren't wearing it? Are you all healed up? You know, Richard Hamilton still wears a mask and his injury healed up like five years ago.

JW: You know, I dunno man. This Pitt game is going to be a real physical game. I'm ready for it, but I really don't want to get hit there again. But I might just wear it for comfort reasons. Plus, you guys kinda hyped me up with "The Masked Dunker" posts, and I got hit up on twitter asking me if I was going to continue to wear it, so I might just have to wear it for ya'll.

BIAH: When was the first time you could dunk? Have you always been this freakishly athletic?

JW: I worked at it. I went through a whole lot of drills with my dad when I was a kid: Weight suits, ankle weights, jump soles, water running. The first time I dunked was probably in the seventh grade. I caught one off the rim in a middle school game. My dad always used to pick on me and say I wouldn't be able to dunk this year, maybe next year. It was our last home game, and a shot came off the rim perfectly and I caught it and just dunked it all over this kid. It was pretty cool.

BIAH: How do you think you stack up against some of the other great dunkers in the country, like Georgia's Travis Leslie and Arizona's Derrick Williams?

JW: (Travis) Leslie is very impressive. I've gotten to see him a few times when we've gotten to play against Georgia. We got a chance to mess around during lay-up lines and what-not. He showed me a few of his stuff, and I showed him some of my stuff. (Derrick) Williams is tall. Me and Leslie are around the same height, but Williams is tall and athletic. He's probably got our "bunnies" but he's taller, so you don't know what he's capable of, but man, he's athletic."

BIAH: The Big South doesn't get a lot of national publicity, but you yourself have been on ESPN four times this year. Does that mean a lot to you?

JW: That's big man, you know. Especially because our cameras aren't the best in the world, so usually when they do catch me it's usually when we are on somebody else's court. But it's been a blessing to have an opportunity to showcase my skills like that.

BIAH: You guys beat Arkansas-Little Rock in overtime and now have the privilege of facing No. 1 Pittsburgh. Do you feel like playing an extra game will help your chances?

JW: Yeah, we got the butterflies out. Being on a big stage, I feel like we will be better prepared because we've been in that situation before earlier in the week. Plus we've played here before (against Georgetown on 11/27), so we're a little used to the rims, hopefully they bounce our way.

BIAH: You guys have a pretty big front-court. Do you think that will be able to help against Pitt and their big guys like Gary Mcgee?

JW: Man, Pittsburgh's got a big frontcourt, too. They got 6-foot-6, 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-10. Maybe if we are physical with them, we might catch them off guard so hopefully we'll be able to match them.

BIAH: So, are you guys going to become the first No. 16 team to beat a No. 1?

JW: Man, I hope so. To be honest with you, that's what the goal is. We like D.C., we want to stay here until Saturday.

UNC-Asheville plays Pittsburgh at 3:15PM on Thursday. The game will air on TruTV.

1 comment:

Queen said...

He lettered in Track too and holds the Virginia prep league long jump record!