John Thompson recalled a conversation he and Bob Wade, the coach at Dunbar High School in Baltimore, were having two years ago, right after Reggie Williams had signed a letter of intent to attend Georgetown.
"Bob said to me, 'John, you still don't know what you're getting yet, but you'll find out,' " Thompson said the other day.
It has been clear for some time now just what Georgetown was getting. Williams, the Hoyas' 6-foot-7 sophomore, has become one of the most versatile college players in the nation.
Williams' contribution to Georgetown's 18-2 season has been significant. At various times he has played point guard (when Michael Jackson was injured), shooting guard, small forward and even power forward.
"He's got as much range as most people in the country," Thompson said recently. "A lot of people claim they can play several positions. But how well can they play them? Reggie is a factor at several. His responsibilities are greater than those of a lot of people."
Williams' last two games, both losses, have not been his best. Even so, he is averaging 11 points and five rebounds despite often playing in the back court.
In at least one way, Williams, a high school all-America, is the kind of player Thompson loves to recruit -- one who can play a minimum of two positions. Sometimes it's difficult to tell exactly which position Williams is playing. And opposing players often admit to such confusion.
"You have to really be mentally into what you're doing," Williams said. "It even gets confusing to me, but you can't afford to make mistakes in a game. Practice is really important because when Coach Thompson is telling one person something, he's in effect telling the whole team.
"So when he's talking to Michael Jackson, I have to plug in to that so I can be ready to play point guard if necessary. And if he's talking to David Wingate about small forward, I've got to listen to that, too."
Williams can adjust for several reasons. At 6 feet 7, he is tall enough, though slender, to play in the front court and rebound. His high school coach, Wade, said this week: "Even when I first saw him, playing in junior high, he was 6-3 and handled the ball a lot. There was a softness in his shot and he ran the court, caught the ball well and was very graceful."
Playing so many positions wasn't in Williams' original plan. "I didn't think I'd grow to be taller than 6-3," he said. "When I started growing, I thought, 'Dag, I feel funny.' I wanted to play guard in high school."
As he neared 6-7, Williams played power forward a lot for Wade, but he retained the pretty and smooth elements of his game. He scored easily; 25 points or more were no problem.
Williams' game still is stylish. But rarely does a player score 25 points for one of Thompson's well-balanced teams.
"I think the biggest thing Reggie has had to adjust to is the way John makes mass substitutions," Wade said. "In high school, he was a scorer. He was used to being the man. At Georgetown, he's a role player."
Actually, Williams is a roles player. He doesn't seem to mind. "I knew it would be difficult and different," he said. "But I couldn't go on being a high school senior forever."
Thompson, while wanting Williams to become more consistent defensively, said, "Reggie is a great player, and he's becoming an even broader player. What I like is that he's got a confidence in himself without talking about it."
That confidence probably came from playing on one of the nation's top high school teams, then playing on a national championship team. In the title game against Houston last season, Williams led Georgetown with 19 points and had seven rebounds -- certainly one of the best performances ever by a freshman in an NCAA final.
Yet, it was the Williams' performance after the game that many people still remember more than his play. In a live television interview immediately following the game, Williams tightened up and couldn't get out a single word. Automatically, he was typecast.
"You know, I thought about that a lot over the summer," he said. "I was just so excited, and I knew I needed to calm down some. I know I can speak well publicly. But I also knew there were people around the nation sitting in front of their televisions saying, 'Look at this, another typical basketball player.' "
During the interview for this story, Williams was as expressive as anyone could expect, on topics ranging from basketball to his offcourt experiences at Georgetown.
He was pursued by more than 200 schools, Wade said. Williams considered Louisville because of its free-flowing style, as well as Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Villanova and Maryland.
"I wanted to get away from home, but not too far," Williams said, voicing a common desire of high school seniors. "I didn't really know Georgetown would be like this. It's so international, which is something I wasn't exposed to at Dunbar.
"I like it here. I liked the whole year last year. No one thing stands out about the national championship. It was the road getting there that was fun."
It certainly isn't farfetched to think that Williams will have as much fun again this season.