Clarice Williams glanced at her son and smiled.
The mother of New Haven High School senior Eric Williams Jr. had finally witnessed all of her hard work pay off. For years, Clarice had worked to make her son's dream of playing college basketball come true. And on Tuesday she was there to watch him sign his letter of intent to play basketball for Division 1 Duquesne University.
"I feel blessed," Clarice said. "I have always known he was talented. We've made everything in our household revolve around Eric and it just paid off. From the time he was 4 years old until now, he has been playing basketball.
"We just try to put him in the right situations and I'm really happy about that."
For the Williams family, that meant making the tough decision of transferring from St. Clair to New Haven after his sophomore year. Williams Jr. called it the biggest adversity he faced during his high school athletic career.
"The transfer from St. Clair is the biggest reason for this (signing)," Williams Jr. said. "My development after that and the adversity of the whole situation helped me get here today.
"I think the coaches here helped me get here and I'm still working."
Watching from across the gym was New Haven coach Tedaro France II. The veteran coach took a moment to reflect on his senior and how far he had come since arriving at the school two short years ago.
"He didn’t have the mid-range game," France II recalled. "He wasn’t in great shape. He wasn’t explosive. We got him in the weight room and worked on his speed and his shot and his ball skills and just pounded and pounded it into him. Some days he hated me but it worked out for him because that’s what he wanted. Some kids want to be coached hard. Eric was a kid that was waiting and once he got pushed he just ran with it.
ADVERTISING"He is a great kid and it’s just great to see him get rewarded for his hard work. He wasn’t a kid that was highly ranked. He didn’t get mad that he wasn’t receiving the offers. He just kept working and working and it worked out for him. He bloomed late. He still hasn’t played his best ball. The sky is the limit."
Williams rise to the college level won't be the last for the Rockets. The reigning Class B state champions have another player that is being heavily recruited as well. Not far from Williams Jr. stood 6-foot-6 phenom Romeo Weems, who holds offers from Michigan State and Ohio State, among others.
The Rockets sophomore watched as Williams Jr. signed his letter of intent, knowing his day would also one day come.