Corey Williams left Alabama State with no leads. None.
He averaged about 13 points per game his last year at the small Division I school. He had no connections to professional basketball. He had no direction from any mentors. All he had was a big dream and the self-confidence that he was one of basketball's hidden jewels.
Thinking back to his New York City roots, he came up with the only idea he had.
"All I knew was, I always used to read these magazines about guys coming from streetball, getting opportunities," Williams said. "So let me try. Maybe I can do this. That's how I started playing streetball."
Slowly, it worked. Williams proved his worth on the playgrounds of New York City. He was so good, he picked up the nickname "Homicide" by the streetball MCs. He was so incredible in 2005, it was dubbed "Summer of Homicide" and concluded with an invitation to the Toronto Raptors training camp.
Williams proved that the path to professional basketball isn't always obvious. But even more importantly, he proved that there is a way if there's a whole lot of will.
His story is remarkable, and he's ready to tell it to a younger generation of underdogs. Just like he was.
"This is not an overnight success story," Williams said. "I just want people to know that if you want it, you can really get it. It just depends on how bad you want it. This is a story of blood, sweat and tears all the way."
Williams is a New York City streetball legend, known as Homicide because he was streetball's "most dangerous player." Some say he's the greatest of his generation. At just 33 years old, he's not done yet, either.
Talents like Rafer Alston and Jamaal Tinsley have seen their New York City streetball roots take them farther. Both have made millions in the NBA. Williams, meanwhile, was the last cut of the Raptors in 2005 and has never played in an NBA regular season game.
"Here's why I'm different than Rafer and Jamaal Tinsley," Williams explains. "Those guys went to major Division I universities. Those guys were known from high school already.
"Things were more set up for them. What I mean by that is when you're good at a younger age, you have an advantage. Universities are going to come at you. Major universities. They're going to give the ball to you, it's going to be your show pretty much. Everybody wants the guy who can play now. Nobody wants the guy who needs to develop."
Williams was a late bloomer compared to Alston and Tinsley. While Alston ended up at Fresno State and Tinsley starred at Iowa State, Williams graduated from Rice High School in New York without any Division I interest. He ended up playing two years at Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City, Mo., before going to Alabama State.
Once he quietly finished college, Williams didn't know what to do. He tried to get noticed at agent-run camps in the south, but realized many of them were "scams." Out of options, he made his way back to New York to try to earn his respect on the streets.
"I said OK, these guys were good in high school. I know I've gotten better, and I'm ready to bust their (behind)," Williams said. "This is what I'm saying to myself. Everybody that was good at the time, I put their name on a list, and I hunted them down. I didn't do it all in one summer, but I caught them all. And I destroyed them. That's what I had to do to get my reputation and my name out there.
"That first summer in New York City, I played in about nine tournaments. There were days I played three games in a day ... These were the things I was doing. I was scrambling, doing everything, playing everywhere in every park to get my name and my reputation."