Ex-Patriot on global journey

William Avery (right): Former Westside star has played in the NBA and for teams around the world during his pro basketball career.

William Avery hasn't slowed down much. In fact, the almost 32-year-old point guard barely stops moving.


Avery flew back home from Poland on Thursday. He'll have a weekend to relax before playing host to his first basketball camp for about 40 to 50 local kids all week at Evans Middle School.

"I want to teach them the fundamentals and sportsmanship and enjoy the game of basketball," Avery said. "If this is something they want to do, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to do it."

There is no better example of that than Avery, who has been dedicated enough to travel the world playing basketball for the past decade. Poland was just the latest stop on a pro career that started with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA and then morphed into a globe-trotting pursuit through France, Greece, Israel, Ukraine, Germany and Turkey.

"All over," he said of his basketball travels. "It's been great getting to see the world, experiencing different cultures and doing what I like to do the most."

Needless to say, it was hardly the kind of career Avery expected when his 1995 state championship credentials at Westside High School helped garner him a scholarship to Duke in 1997. Two years later he was the 14th overall selection in the NBA Draft after helping the Blue Devils advance to the National Championship game as a sophomore in 1999.

"Growing up and playing in the backyard I always envisioned myself playing in the NBA," he said. "That was my dream and I was fortunate enough to get to live my dream and do that. I never knew that the game I love would take me around the world. I tell people in the United States that the game is going so global now, which is a great thing for everyone."

Despite having a permanent home in Evans with his wife, Chasity, and their two daughters -- Yasmine, 10, and Autumn, 3 -- Avery still travels to Europe every season even as he's about to turn 32 this summer. The years of playing guard around the world have taken a toll on his body. He spent all of 2010 in Augusta rehabbing and working out to overcome strained tendons in both knees.

But his reputation in Europe is sound enough that in February he got the call from Czarni Slupsk in the Polish League to join them late in the regular season. Slupsk, located in northern Poland near the coast of the Baltic Sea, made a run for a franchise-best bronze medal in the postseason after Avery's squad lost in the semifinals to a team that included fellow former Duke star Daniel Ewing.

"It's been a great ride and I've been able to establish a good name for myself so that even being out so long with an injury teams are still willing to take a chance," he said. "That says a lot about what I've done throughout Europe as a basketball player."

As a guard, Avery enjoys the European style of basketball that caters to his skills.

"In the NBA, the game is much faster and much more athletic," he said. "This is very strategic, team-oriented basketball in Europe."

Avery wants to play a few more seasons before taking everything he's absorbed in a lifetime playing basketball to the bench as a collegiate coach.

"Coaching is definitely the next move," he said. "I plan to do this three more years and then hopefully sit on the sidelines with somebody I can learn from an get better and one day become a head coach. I've had a number of coaches tell me to give them a call when I'm ready. The first guy I'm going to approach is my guy, Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski), and see where that takes me."

Avery isn't waiting to start training for that next phase in his career. He's sponsored the Will Avery Stars AAU team.

"I really enjoy working with kids and helping them develop," he said. " I've had them since they were 11 (years old) and now they're 14 and one of the goals is to get into the Peach Jam when they are 16."

Once this week's basketball camp in Evans is over, he'll start up the Will Avery Basketball Academy in Columbia County designed to give more individualized training of boys and girls from fourth grade through high school who are more serious about developing their skills.

Anyone interested can find out more information about Avery's camps and how to sign up on his Web site, www.willaveryspringclassic.com.

"Buck Harris over at Laney High School showed me how to do it and brought me in to workout and get better and I kind of want to do what he did for me," Avery said of his academy plans. "It's needed and it helped me a lot."

Those lessons he learned as a kid have taken Avery to the top, around the world and back home again.