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Today's word on journalism

March 17, 2009

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1863-2009

"Can Seattle's oldest newspaper be successfully transformed into a child of the information age? The Northwest is a land of big dreams. With the demise of the Soviet Union, one quipster noted that Puget Sound is now home to three empires still bent on global dominion: Microsoft, Amazon.com and Starbuck's. If the stars align properly and with a quality product, Seattle will show the way to a new model for journalism of the written word."

--Joel Connelly, columnist, in today's final print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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Stavon Williams: big skills, big plans and a big heart

Watch Stavon Williams' eight-point spree on YouTube

By Connor H. Jones

February 4, 2009 | From the blacktops of Minnesota to the snow-capped mountains of Logan, Utah, Stavon Williams had come up big when his team needs him most.

Williams, a 6-foot-3 junior from Minneapolis transferred to USU in 2008 from San Jacinto Junior College in Harris County, Texas.

At Roosevelt High School in his hometown he averaged 23.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game and earned a spot on the all-state team in his senior season. Williams played in four All-Star games, earning Most Valuable Player in one of his appearances. In both his junior and senior seasons of high school he was honored as the MVP of his conference and throughout his prep career he was named all-conference three times.

As a sophomore at SJJC Williams received all-region honors while helping his team to a third-place conference finish and a record of 23-8. He shot 49.4 percent from the field, 43.5 percent from three-point range and 72.2 percent from the free throw line while averaging 5.3 rebounds and 15.4 points-per-game.

"One of the main reasons I actually transferred to Utah State because of James Ware," said Williams.

Ware was an assistant coach for the Aggies from 2006 to 2008 before being hired as an assistant coach for Santa Clara University.

"Right after I signed he got a job offer at Santa Clara and left," said Williams, "but I also decided to come here because USU has such a good record and it's such a great atmosphere to play in."

The atmosphere proved to be enough for Williams, who, according to jocojunction.com only had one official visit to Utah State before he signed a letter of intent.

Williams has proved his worth to the Aggies so far in the season, leading the team in points coming off the bench. His average points per game is 6.0 while assists and rebounds are just under 2 per game. Williams also has the highest free throw percentage at .850, three-point percentage at .412, and the fifth highest points total this season at 127.

Stavon's season-high is at 15 points, a mark he's hit in three games. None of his points have been quite as important or electrifying the eight consecutive he scored against Nevada on Jan. 29. USU was down by four coming into the second half, the home crowd was somewhat quiet and the Wolfpack seemed to have the momentum. That was the case until Tai Wesley came out of the locker room swinging, scoring the first 12 points of the second half for USU.

As the crowd started to heat up, so did the hand of Stavon Williams. With just over 10:00 minutes left in the game the 45-all was broken with a beautiful Williams layup, followed by a quick defensive rebound by Brady Jardine and a three-pointer by Williams. At this point the crowd was getting excited, their team was now up by five and the Aggies were starting to play like they cared about the outcome.

Nevada's Luke Babbitt, who had been scoring at will all night, came through the lane for a layup, before the ball got to the peak of its arc Jardine was there to block it staight into the waiting hands of Gary Wilkinson, who passed it out to point guard Jared Quayle. Like a child's first visit to Disneyland, Jardine was all smiles as he ran back down the court, Spectrum ready to burst. On the other side of the court Williams split the defenders and cut through the heart of the Aggies' key. Quayle made a quick pass to the top of the arc, where the hot hand of Williams pulled up and sank the three without effort.

"Usually, when I make a few shots back to back, I feel like everything is going in," said Williams. "The rim just feels so big to me. It's like throwing a rock in the ocean."

Anyone who's been inside the Spectrum can testify how loud it can get, but no one expected the level of noise that came after Williams' "rock" hit the ocean's surface.

"I got dizzy, man," Williams said. "It was just so loud that I really forgot where I was at for a quick second."

He wasn't the only one. The noise was ear-splitting.

While helping the Aggies climb ever higher in the national ranking may be his primary goal for the time being Williams hopes to one day have lasting effects on young people growing up in places like his home of Minneapolis.

"I'm majoring in parks and rec," said Williams. "I'm not sure yet what I can do with the degree but I know I want to be involved with inner city kids, just keeping them out of the streets and in a YMCA type environment where they will always have something to do, a place where they could have free help on there homework and what not, but really I just want to be a positive role model to the young kids coming up in rough neighborhoods."

Williams always has his mind set on the upcoming game, so as his final years of eligibility wind down, his thoughts continue on, to perhaps his most important calling in life -- not helping a basketball team win, but ensuring quality of life for future generations.

MS
MS

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