Former Duke standout and current ESPN men’s basketball analyst Jay Williams had a game for the ages when the Blue Devils participated in the 2001 Jimmy V Classic at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J.
On Dec. 18, 2001, Williams notched a career-high 38 points as No. 1 Duke topped No. 7 Kentucky 95-92 in overtime. Fifteen years later, Williams will be part of ESPN’s coverage of the 22nd annual Jimmy V Classic tonight as part of Jimmy V Week.
The 2016 Classic – showcasing No. 18 Purdue vs. Arizona State at 7 p.m. and No. 21 Florida against No. 5 Duke at 9 p.m. – will air on ESPN and ESPN Radio. Williams and the College GameDay Covered by State Farm crew will be live from Madison Square Garden starting at 6:30 p.m ET.
Front Row asked Williams to reflect upon his memories from playing in the Jimmy V Classic.
Do you remember your performance in this specific game?
How can you ever forget an overtime game when it’s the clashing of the blues – Duke versus Kentucky? I remember every detail from that game including how many great players were on that court in an arena I had always dreamed of playing in since I was born and raised in New Jersey.
Was there a specific moment from that game that stands out?
I remember hitting a crucial three-pointer late in the second half and pointing to one of my teammates for making a great pass. It was one of those exhilarating moments when I felt one with the game. I was lost in a competitive fog.
As a student-athlete, did you know the impact that Jimmy V had and the importance of the Classic and Jimmy V Week?
As a student, I did recognize the significance of the Jimmy V Classic. I had heard “the speech” [Jim Valvano’s classic ESPYS speech] multiple times and it always forced me to play even harder because it exponentially elevated my level of appreciation for the game and having Duke across my chest.
As part of the ESPN family, how have you witnessed the importance of the V Foundation and ESPN’s efforts to support it?
Being a part of the ESPN family now and having had family members who have been plagued with this horrific disease makes me appreciate what our network does to a different level. To raise awareness with a course of action to help families around the world in need is one of the greatest things I have had the honor to be a part of.
Samantha Baron produced the video above.