Former players and coaches react to Gary Williams’s Hall of Fame election


(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

On Monday afternoon down in North Texas at the Final Four, legendary Maryland coach Gary Williams was announced as an inductee into the Naismith Hall of Fame class of 2014, making official what was expected over the weekend. A first-ballot election, Williams commanded the respect of rival coaches and colleagues alike for his career-long dedication, which spanned 44 years across high school and college and included the 2002 national title with the Terrapins.

Courtesy of Maryland athletics, here are some quotes from notable figures reacting to Williams’s election:

Kevin Anderson, athletics director: “On behalf of the University of Maryland athletics department, we want to congratulate Gary on being selected for induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Over the past five decades, Gary’s contributions to the University of Maryland as an alum, player and coach are unmatched. Gary has earned this honor through his unwavering commitment and dedication to the game of basketball. He had the uncanny ability to bring the best out of his players. Gary is an outstanding coach and great friend, whose drive, passion and knowledge of the game have led him to the pinnacle of his profession.”

Wallace D. Loh, University President: “Gary Williams is an icon not only here at the University of Maryland, but for all of college basketball. I congratulate Coach Williams on this much-deserved honor and I celebrate this moment with Terp alumni and fans all over the world.”

Coach Mark Turgeon: “I want to congratulate Gary on this prestigious honor. Gary is as respected as they come in the coaching profession. He won at every level, did things the right way and will be recognized as one of the all-time greats in our profession. His record and championship pedigree speak for themselves.”

Former guard Greivis Vasquez: “I’m so happy for Coach. He means the world to me – he’s a mentor, a father figure and a coach. I have so many different emotions right now because I am so happy for him. It was a privilege, an honor and a great blessing to play for Coach. I will be there in August when he gets inducted. He has had such an outstanding career. He is a great coach who helped develop me into an NBA player. I can’t explain how patient he was with me. He taught me how to play the right way and the skills that I used in the NBA now, were developed under Coach during my time at Maryland.”

Former forward and current radio analyst Walt Williams: “This honor for Coach is very well-deserved. There are so many ways that a coach can be considered a hall of famer. Gary had so many great qualities, but I think he was exceptional at motivating his players. He always found a way to get the most out of them. It wasn’t always about talent, but it was the environment he created for all of us to be successful. He motivated you to succeed not just by his words, but by his actions. I was the type of player who accepted challenges – I came from that type of environment. Gary placed us in positions to win. He was always very genuine and instilled great confidence in us. No matter who we played, he gave us the belief, pushed us and motivated us to be the very best. I’m so excited that he’s been honored to be a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.”

Former guard and current special assistant Juan Dixon: “Coach Williams being inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame is an unbelievable honor. He led the charge in turning around the Maryland basketball program. He helped us accomplish a dream by leading us to the national title in 2002. It was such an honor to play for Coach. He is a rock – as solid as they come. Coach believes in his players – no matter the situation we were in, he believed in us and put us in a position to be successful. It doesn’t get bigger than being inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame.”

Johnny Holliday, radio broadcaster: “I think there’s no question this is an honor well-deserved and well overdue — not only for what he’s done for the game of basketball, but for the University of Maryland as well. His dedication and commitment on and off the court was a shining example for young people and followers of basketball. He was a great teacher in practice and his best time as a coach was when he was teaching kids. He took a guy like Juan Dixon who nobody believed in and made him into an All-American. It is a tremendous honor.”

Former forward Tony Massenburg: “This is a very well-deserved honor. Gary came in at a tough time my senior season and he was able to right the ship. It was so important to have a coach who was a graduate of Maryland who had strong connections to the program. Gary was going to go the extra mile to take the team back to prominence. He came in immediately rebuilding a program and winning over players who had been there and dealt with a lot. His fresh attitude and perspective gave us confidence. He believed we could be as good as anybody in the country. Gary never wavered, always brought intensity and made guys believe they could beat anybody.”

Michael Adams, former Boston College player and assistant coach under Williams: “He’s the best coach that I ever had. He was very competitive and made his players competitive. That’s how he got the best out of his teams. He’s a great teacher of the game and I was a player who overachieved under him. I would say his greatest attributes are his teaching methods and how he was able to get the best out of his players.

Jimmy Patsos, former assistant under Williams: “Gary deserves the honor – he always put the University of Maryland first. To come from a program with no gym at American University to the Naismith Hall of Fame is a tremendous accomplishment. He is a great coach and a great person. It was an honor and adventure to work with him.”

Former guard Steve Blake: “Coach Williams was a great coach. His intensity and knowledge of the game helped us all become better players and his leadership led us right to a national championship. Thanks Coach and congratulations!”

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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