Kent Williams’ life is full of sports. Especially basketball. If he isn’t playing it for the Salukis, he is watching it on television.
A senior at SIU, Williams is nearing the career points mark set by Charlie Vaughn, who is only 327 points ahead of him.
With all the pressure that brings, Williams is also on a team tied with the Creighton Bluejays for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Saturday, the day of the game versus the Indiana State Sycamores, Williams allowed Daily Egyptian photographers and reporter Christopher Morrical to follow him around so fans could understand the daily life of a star on the Saluki basketball team.
This is a day in the life of Kent Williams.
10:20 a.m. Sleeping in and hanging out
Kent Williams slept in Saturday, the day the Salukis were to take on the Indiana State Sycamores. He is usually awoken by an alarm clock, but he didn’t set it the night before.
“My body never lets me sleep too late,” Williams said. “On Saturdays, I never have an alarm clock. It’s just however it goes. On game day, I try not to sleep too late so you don’t feel too groggy when you get here and you’re kind of awake.”
Williams pulled himself out of bed and headed to the bathroom for a 20-minute shower. The hot water and the smell of his coconut scented Suave shampoo also helped him to wake up.
After Williams toweled off, he sat down to two bowls of Honeycomb cereal that he ate with whole milk.
“Whole milk. The good stuff,” Williams said.
When breakfast was over, he headed to the family room to watch the Duke basketball game on television. As he watched the game, Williams sat and autographed about 300 pictures for Jefferson County Day. Williams is from Mt. Vernon in Jefferson County, and the pictures were an action-shot of Williams against Georgia in the NCAA tournament.
During the game, Williams snacked on a Hershey Almond candy bar and root beer.
“I always like to get chocolate or some kind of caffeine in my system on game day,” Williams said. “It’s so I get here, shoot around and have a little energy in me. Junk food doesn’t really bother me, so that’s what I eat.”
It was nearing time for the team’s shoot-around. Williams had already put his practice clothes on, so he grabbed his coat and his autographed pictures and headed out the door.
12:30 a.m. More televised games and practice
Williams arrived at the SIU Arena in his 2002 Kia Sportage. A few of the coaches were already there, so he joined them in the locker room to watch more basketball on television. The channels changed frequently. Games rotated between Illinois at Penn State, Georgetown at Pitt and Charlotte at Cincinnati.
Once Indiana State left the court at about 1 p.m., the Salukis came out to practice. Williams was one of the first. Accompanying him was Darren Brooks, Sylvester Willis, Blake Schoen and Bryan Turner. One by one, the rest of the Salukis made their way to the court.
Williams went to the hoop near the main entrance and proceeded to practice three-pointers. There was plenty of jawing with Willis, but the empty arena echoed only the sounds of dribbling balls, squeaking shoes and the clang of the ball going off the hoop.
By 1:20 p.m., the coaches made their appearance and quickly took control of the shoot-around. The team was divided in half, and shooting drills began.
Williams dashed under the basket, touched a chair that was placed on the court and received the ball from a coach. He turns, shoots and sinks a three. Practice continued like this for a few hours until it was time to go to the pre-game meal.
Williams drove to Mugsy McGuire’s Bar & Grill by himself. Once there, he enjoyed a steak, mashed potatoes and a salad. He said the team always has steak or grilled chicken.
After he ate, Williams headed back home.
3:30 p.m. Even more televised games and relaxing
Williams likes to take it easy before he goes back to campus for the game. Saturday, he laid on his couch and watched more televised basketball games. Eventually, he got up and shot some pool.
“Just to get on my feet and get walking around before I left,” Williams said. “Shooting pool relaxes me. Thinking about the game a little bit, but at the same time, getting your mind off of it. Getting focused, but relaxing.”
Normally, Williams would be back at the Arena around 5 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game. This day, there was a women’s basketball game, so things were a little different for him.
“It threw my whole schedule off,” Williams said.
He said he likes to get to the Arena before everyone else, so he can get taped up and practice before the balls start flying.
Williams still made it back to campus by 5:15 p.m. After getting taped up, he sat in the locker room and watched the Indiana-Purdue game on television.
He went to the court to watch a few minutes of the women’s game. Several kids spotted him and started requesting autographs. He signed some, but eventually went back to the locker room.
7 p.m. Game time!
As the game began, Williams made the first points of the game- a three-pointer. The rest of the game against the Sycamores didn’t go as well. He scored only four more points.
The Salukis did win, however, picking it up in the second half.
“It was a pretty sloppy game,” Williams said. “I think it was a defensive game. We played good defense and they played good defense at the same time. Our shots weren’t falling, obviously. The score was 21-20 at half time. It was basically who was going to fight it out and make a little run.
“For me, personally, I didn’t shoot very well. Maybe it was that I didn’t get here early and get a lot of shots in and things like that. I didn’t feel that I was in a groove shooting during the game. I felt a little out of sink. We took care of business on defense, and that’s the way we won.”
At 8:45 p.m., the clock was winding down. Williams looked up at the scoreboard overhead and watched the last second tick off. The final score was 60-48 in favor of SIU. As he walked back to the locker room, he lifted his shirt to wipe away the sweat from his face.
After the game, Williams passed out the autographed pictures to the kids who waited in the balcony.
9:45 p.m. Family time and yet more basketball
Williams’ family, father Brad, mother Barbara and little sister Lacey, were at the game. They never miss one.
Reunited once again, if only for a short time, they decide to have dinner together. The four of them headed to Applebee’s. Williams was less than thrilled with his meal.
After dinner, everyone headed home. Lacey and parents went back to Mt. Vernon and Williams went back to his place.
“I was going to go out, but I was tired after the game,” Williams said. “I was hoping the game wasn’t going to be as tough as it was, and I was not going to have to play as many minutes and have some energy to go out, but I was pretty tired.”
Once home at 11:15 p.m., Williams flipped on the television and watched SportsCenter. He watched the bottom line and checked out scores while he ate a snack.
At 12:30 a.m., Williams headed for bed.
Reporter Christopher Morrical can be reached at [email protected]