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Thursday, September 28, 2006
Nets sign Jay Williams three years after accident

Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Three years after a motorcycle accident put his fledgling career in jeopardy, Jay Williams is getting a chance to return to the NBA with the New Jersey Nets.

Williams signed a contract with the Nets on Thursday, giving him the right to attend training camp and try out for the team.

Contract terms were not immediately available, but the deal is not guaranteed.

"I would love for it to happen here," Williams said. "I pray to God it does. But if it doesn't, I'll have to go from there."

With Jason Kidd being the Nets' starting point guard and Marcus Williams, the team's first-round draft pick, expected to be his backup, Williams is a bit of a long shot to make the team.

"I think there are a lot of things in my game that a lot of people don't realize," Williams said. "Over the past 2½, three years I really found the passes, so I can still (pass) the ball and make everyone around me look great, too. My jump shot has gotten a lot better. I just have to keep working hard."

Nets president Rod Thorn said earlier this week that the accident has taken away some of Williams' athleticism, but he can make up for that with his knowledge of the game.

"Remarkable young man to get to this point," Thorn said. "Nobody outworks him. He's got a tremendous attitude. He's a guy that everybody roots for, the kind of person that he is. He believes he'll make it back. And we're certainly hopeful that he will, too."

Williams, who has been working out at the Nets' facility for the past seven weeks, said he feels great.

"When I first came here a month and a half ago, we did the full-court sprint and I ran it in a 3.5 (seconds)," Williams said. "Two weeks ago, we ran it again and I was at a 2.85. So I've gotten a lot, lot faster.

"It's weird, though, because sometimes it'll kind of level off a little bit and then I'll have a big jump," he added. "I keep getting better. I don't know how to explain it, I keep working hard and hopefully it will continue to pay off."

Originally drafted with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls, Williams averaged 9.5 points, 4.7 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.15 steals in 75 games during the 2002-03 season. He was named to the NBA's All-Rookie Second Team.

Williams' career appeared to end on June 19, 2003, when he crashed his recently bought motorcycle into a light pole in Chicago, fracturing his pelvis and tearing knee ligaments and suffering nerve damage in his left leg. He was hospitalized for 3½ months.

The Bulls eventually bought out his contract for about $3 million.

A native of Plainfield, which is about 20 miles from where the Nets play their home games, Williams led Duke to the national title as a sophomore in 2001 and was a two-time All-American and the 2002 Associated Press College Player of the Year.

"(I) just keep getting better and keep showing that I can play," Williams said. "It's been a fun experience."