Shun Williams, 25, runs the college basketball scouting service On the Radar Hoops, which is hosting an invitational tournament this weekend.
A former Buford, UAB and Georgia Southern football player, Williams talks about his transition to basketball, playing football at Buford and the difficulties he has getting his name spelled correctly in this installment of "Getting to Know..."
BB: Let's start with your football days, what was playing college football like?
SW: UAB was an experience. I was only there for a short period of time, it was kind of a lot different from high school. I got the opportunity to be around a good group of guys. Most importantly I got the chance to be around Falcons wideout Roddy White, so that was cool. Ended up transferring to Georgia Southern and I played there for about a year and a half. I had shoulder surgery twice (torn labrum) so that kind of cut my career short.
BB: UAB and Southern must have been a different experience after spending four years at Buford and winning three state titles.
SW: It was kind of different. I had the opportunity to go to Kentucky but I chose to go to UAB. So SEC as opposed to Conference USA (knowing look), a totally different thing. But it was cool, I got a chance to do what I always wanted to do which was go to school for free and get a scholarship.
BB: You seem to have made the most of it.
SW: Yeah. When I left there (Southern) I went to Kennesaw State and got my bachelor's.
BB: What was your bachelor's?
SW: I got my bachelor's in business administration and after that, as soon as I graduated in May, I jumped into the sport's administration master's at Georgia State and I got my degree from Georgia State this past August.
BB: Well you are doing On the Radar Hoops, a boys basketball recruiting service. Why did you transition from football to basketball? You only played three years for Buford.
SW: Basketball, always, was my first love. It just worked out that I was always better at football. I have a mentor named Brandon Clay and he runs Peach State Hoops and he does a lot of stuff on the girls' side. He is the one who mentored and walked me through it and laid out the blueprint for me to really get into basketball and do some of the things that I am doing on the boys' side.
BB: Tell me about Saturday's tournament. There are some Gwinnett teams and some good matchups.
SW: The biggest thing for me is that On the Radar Hoops is a scouting service. College teams call me to assess talent around the state of Georgia. What I wanted to do was showcase a lot of the good basketball teams around the state. That was the biggest thing for me. I got a lot of good support from a lot of the high school coaches in the community and I am really looking forward to it. I think it's going to be a good event.
BB: Do you find the high school coaches are interested in having these events centered around high school teams since so much of the showcase event happen on the AAU circuit?
SW: I believe so. I believe so. When you can line up and have good matchups these guys are really interested in playing. Some of these guys may go through the season and they don't really play anybody. So if you have a chance to play some good competition or against teams from another state that is a known program, they jump all over it. They jump all over it.
BB: Plus, you'll get some scouts there, the whole deal.
SW: I had a lot of college coaches call about coming. Of course, the guys the take my scouting service, all those guys will be out there. The Georgia State scout will be there because they have (Buford's) T.J. Shipes going to Georgia State. UGA will be there, Clemson's called, Georgia Tech's called about coming. A lot of different people that I talk to on a regular basis and I am excited to see some of these kids.
BB: Did being from here and being a Buford athlete help you build this service?
SW: I think it was moreso, I had to sell myself. I had to know exactly what I was talking about. The thing here is now is everybody knows what On the Radar Hoops is on the boys side. I have camps and I'll have 150 kids come out to my camp. I'll have 50 college programs at my camp. When UConn can call the Norcross coach and say, 'Shun Williams told me to reach out to you...' it changes things. The biggest thing for me is I want to help the kids get to the next level. And high school coaches understand that. The big thing for me is, I got a chance to play college ball and the coaches at Buford helped me. I see that kids at other schools didn't have that opportunity, they didn't have coaches to help put them in the right direction. For me, I can go here and I can see this kid and I can turn around and call this ACC or SEC program and say, 'Hey, I think this kid is good enough to play for you, come and take a look at him.' So after I kind of built myself up and people know me as Shun who played football and didn't really play basketball. And I really didn't because I was always known for football throughout that state and throughout Gwinnett.
BB: And you, of all people, with a bachelor's and a master's understand the benefit of an education, because very few people play professionally.
SW: I think you have to use basketball as a vehicle to a free education and an opportunity to have a better start at life. I think regardless of what level you play at, whether it's D-1 or Division III. You are getting your school paid for, stay in there stick it out and play basketball and have a good time. At the end of the day you are going to school to get an education.
Playing at the next level professionally, is highly unlikely so you might as well go to college, have a good time and get and education in the process.
BB: You tore your labrum twice from repetitive use and needed two surgeries. Does that make you appreciate the 35-year-old pros in the NFL?SW: I know his body has got to be rough. Those guys, those guys have to be warriors. They go out there and they are beat up and they have pulled hamstrings and they are playing the next weekend. It's just wear and tear on his whole body.
I had a couple teammates that played in the NFL (Darius Walker and P.K.Sam) for a short period of time and they were really good high school players at Buford, really good college players and they got drafted but they are all out of the NFL now. They were pretty much, for three or four years and they were done.
BB: And Darius was a big-name guy.
SW: Oh, from Buford to Notre Dame and having success early at Notre Dame. Then going and playing for the Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos. And he's done now.
BB: I have never seen a name like Shun. That can't get spelled right often.
SW: (pause) Yeah. The thing there is my name is Maurice. Everybody always called me Shun, nobody ever called me Maurice. Then when I got to high school, the name that I had at Buford was Swiss. So all the football coaches and the people in the community know me as Swiss, or they know me as Shun. A lot of people say Shun, S-H-A-U-N or S-E-A-N, but no, it's Shun. That's kind of different but I always just went by it. ... I tell people, I guarantee you won't guess it on the first try.
BB: Or the third.
SW: No. ... So Shun or Swiss that is what people call me. It's my middle name. My middle name is Lashun and I just always went by it. I never went by Maurice.
BB: How do you find out about the obscure player that's not at a big-name school or on a really successful team?
SW: Just word of mouth. I'll hear about them or watch them in the summer time. If it's a kid I've never heard of and someone sends me some film, I'll watch the film. And if I have to drive out to a school, I'll drive out and write my evaluation on him and I'll send it out to those coaches. Or some coaches will reach out to me. But most of the time, I have always seen the kid in person.
BB: And with YouTube and the internet that must be easier.
SW: There are so many ways for kids to market themselves. Between Facebook and Twitter, kids have everything they need.