The junior point guard had been banished from the team the past
four months while serving probation for his role in the theft of
laptops this summer. He stayed in class, kept his grades up and
finally rejoined the second-ranked Huskies in practice this week.
"It's been difficult. I've been watching the team win games.
They won at Maui. They're playing great basketball," he said
Friday. "And me not being a part of that, it hurt."
Dressed in a suit and tie, Williams made his first appearance on
the bench Friday for the Huskies' 129-61 rout of Morehead State
that made them 9-0. He's eligible to play when the Huskies open the
Big East season at Marquette on Jan. 3.
The semester-long suspension and academic requirements were
school-imposed sanctions. He also must successfully complete 18
months' probation for first-time offenders to have his criminal
record erased. That includes 400 hours of community service at a
convent in Meriden, about 40 miles from campus.
His mother left her home in Los Angeles and moved in with him
last semester. Michele and Kelly Williams joined their son after
Friday's game when he spoke publicly for the first time since his
"He seems to appreciate things more now. He doesn't take things
for granted like he used to," Kelly Williams said. "He's been
through a lot having something that you love taken away from you.
It grows you up real fast."
Williams led the Big East in assists last season with 7.8 a
game. He figured to be a crucial part of the Huskies' try for a
third national title on a team with scorers Rudy Gay, Rashad
Anderson and Denham Brown. But in what he called a stupid mistake,
the 20-year-old Williams almost squandered away his college career.
He and teammate A.J. Price were arrested in August on larceny
charges. They were accused of trying to sell laptops stolen from
student dorm rooms. Two of the computers belonged to members of the
UConn women's team. Price received a similar probation from the
courts, but is banished from the team all season.
"I thought I may never play here again, may never go to school
here again," Williams said.
Coach Jim Calhoun suspended Williams for most of his freshman
year because of academic troubles. He returned in good graces,
until this summer.
"I just wasn't thinking," he said. "The thing that I did is
done already. It's all about making my future more wise and make
sure you think before you act."
Williams has apologized to his family, coaches, teammates and
through a student judicial board, the students whose laptops were
stolen. He's prohibited by the courts from having any contact with
During his exile from the team, Williams practiced alone at a
nearby high school, sometimes late at night. He knows he's not in
what he calls "Calhoun shape" and figures it will take a few
weeks to get there.
His mother will live with him until school ends in May.
"She's helped me out tremendously the first semester,"
Williams said. "Why have her leave?"
Williams said UConn students have been supportive, but realizes
it will be different on the road.
"I'm not asking for anyone's sympathy. I don't deserve anyone's
sympathy," he said. "I'm just going out there and play