As a raw but talented player selected No. 17 overall in the 2006 NBA Draft after just one season at Memphis, Shawne Williams showed promise for the Indiana Pacers with 13 points in his rookie debut.
Williams, though, could never find the consistency to get him regular minutes and was traded in 2008 to the Mavericks and again in 2010 to the Nets. During that span, Williams also encountered legal problems, and it looked as if his basketball career was ending before it ever began.
Realizing he could no longer rely on pure ability alone, Williams came to the IMG Academy basketball program to re-dedicated himself to the game. Working with Coach Dan Barto and Athletic & Personal Development program specialists, Williams worked throughout the summer on his on-court skill and physical fitness.
The result? A spot on the New York Knicks roster.
"It was a letdown for my family," Williams said. "It was a letdown for me, too, but it takes a toll on your family, you know, when they anticipate something from you and you just disappear from the circuit for a while."
In an attempt to deal with that disappointment, Williams nearly ate himself out of a chance at a comeback by putting an extra 40 pounds on his 6-foot-9 frame. But after deciding to take another shot at playing, he went down to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and got back down to his playing weight of 225.
"One day I just woke up and me and my agent had a talk and I just felt like this is what I want to do for the rest of my life," he said. "So I've just got to do everything possible to make it happen."
Now, after getting a second chance, Williams is hoping to take advantage of any opportunity he gets to step onto the court.
"I just feel like my journey's just beginning," he said.