For D-III star Wang, journey from Australia now complete

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments For James Wang, this trip was a bit different than the ones before.After cruising through the first three rounds of the NCAA Division III basketball tournament, Wang and his No. 2 Williams squad headed down to the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Va., on March 19 to compete for a national championship.‘I had my teammates with me this time,’ Wang said. ‘It was great to have people I am so close with to share the experience with. The people are most important. That is one of the things I have picked up on this journey.’ After defeating Guilford in the national semifinals, the Ephs fell to Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the championship game, 78-73. They finished the season 30-2, won the NESCAC and were undefeated at home. Wang was second on the team in scoring at 17.3 points per contest. He led the team with 4.4 assists per game and, despite being a 6-foot guard, pulled down 4.1 boards per game. Wang shot 50 percent from beyond the arc. He was selected to the All-NESCAC first team, All-Northeast Region first team and the All-American fourth team.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBasketball has taken Wang more places than he ever imagined.Born in Sydney, Australia, Wang first hit the road in 2005. He packed up his stuff and left his parents and older brother. He headed to Montverde, Fla., to play for one of the nation’s top high school basketball teams. Two years later he was off to New Milford, Conn., for a year of prep school. He then settled down in Massachusetts to play at Williams College.  ‘Having no family or anything was definitely tough,’ said Wang, a sophomore guard. ‘But I wanted to come to America because I wanted to play college basketball and experience basketball at its Mecca. I knew this was the country to do it in.’And with all his travel experience, it was the latest installment that was most special.‘He only started getting minutes midway through his freshman year,’ said Williams senior captain Joe Geoghegan. ‘His hard work in the gym really shows the most in his shot. This year I was confident it was going in every time he spotted up.’But it is not just his shooting that has taken time to develop. When Wang arrived in Florida, he was amazed at how much faster the game was. He also realized that his ball handling was not up to snuff. ‘When I got here everything was so much quicker,’ Wang said. ‘Here it was more about quickness and ball-handling ability. It was a difficult adjustment.’But it was an adjustment that Wang was determined to make. After all, he traveled far enough and was not going to let anything get in his way of playing college ball. At Montverde Academy in Florida, Wang started as a junior. He learned ‘on the job,’ he said. But when senior year came around, his team was ranked fourth in the nation and had nine Division I signees on the team. Wang’s playing time diminished and he was only offered one scholarship — to Nicholls State University. Unhappy with the academics there, Wang packed his bags yet again and enrolled at the Canterbury School in Connecticut for a year of preparatory schooling before college. But Wang was preparing for more.He hit the gym every chance he had in hopes of earning an opportunity to play at the next level.‘I spent endless hours by myself in the empty gym trying to get my game on the right level,’ Wang said. ‘For a whole year I just focused on my weaknesses and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.’Wang was creative with his drills. He would dribble with his eyes closed and with a tennis ball bouncing in his other hand. And his work extended beyond the hardwood.When Wang was in Australia, he would watch Michael Jordan games with his older brother. When Jordan retired, Australia stopped broadcasting NBA games, Wang said. So he and his brother would pop in the videotape and watch Jordan’s playoff series against the Utah Jazz from 1998. After watching, Wang would head outside and try imitating Jordan’s moves.When he came to the United States, he had many more games and players to choose from.‘It is crazy to think about now because now I never watch the same game twice,’ Wang said. ‘Now I watch Steve Nash and Chris Paul and try to imitate their decisions and how they free themselves.’ The years of imitation have rubbed off on Wang.‘He is such a dynamic player who has so many highlight-reel plays,’ said Williams All-American guard Blake Schultz. ‘He takes tough shots and shots that you are like, ‘don’t shoot that, don’t shoot that,’ but then it goes in. He really gets the crowd going.’So while Wang’s traveling seems to be over for at least the next two years, he may be on the move again come graduation.‘I would love to play somewhere else after school — that is what I have always dreamed of,’ Wang said. ‘But not Australia. I would prefer to experience another new foreign country.’ center_img Published on March 23, 2010 at 12:00 pmlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *