It was not as if Scott Williams needed a boost to his blossoming reputation as a basketball player.
But the 18-year-old standout from Wilson High School of Hacienda Heights, a 6-10 prep All-American last season who will play for North Carolina in the fall, enhanced his status with a brilliant performance at the recent Olympic Festival in Houston.
Williams, playing for the West, averaged about 15 points and 10 rebounds in four games and scored 18 in a 103-94 victory over the East in the gold-medal game. He also scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in an earlier game.
Those games prompted these post-tournanment comments from John Thompson, coach of Georgetown University and the 1988 Olympic team: "There are several kids that have impressed me. The one whom I have been most impressed with here in terms of what I saw and how his development is progressing is Scott."
'Played Pretty Well'
And Williams was happy with his showing: "I think I played pretty well, but my jump shot wasn't working and my defense wasn't as good as it could be. My offensive game was good, though."
Still, he was happy to hear the encouraging words from Thompson. "I was pretty excited about it," he said. "There were all these good players there and he singled me out. It was nice to hear."
Despite an outstanding senior year at Wilson and playing in two postseason national all-star games, Williams admits he was a little surprised to be chosen to play in the Olympic Festival.
"I didn't expect to be selected because there are a lot of good players around, but I was hoping. I thought I had a pretty good chance."
A Team Leader
Williams quickly established himself as a leader of the West along with two other Southern California players: Syracuse-bound Steve Thompson from Crenshaw High and former USC standout Tom Lewis of UC Irvine.
Williams said there was better camaraderie on the West than he had experienced in earlier all-star games.
"I don't do that well in all-star situations," he said. "I like to get to meet the players and practice with them so I have a chance to know them and maybe play a little better."
He said the team atmosphere made winning the gold medal special.
"It really meant a lot to me. Our team got real close. We were able to come together and work toward a common goal."
On the subject of goals, Williams is keeping his dream of making the 1988 Olympic team in the back of his mind.
"That's more of a long-term goal," he said. "I would definitely like to play in the Olympics. It's something I think about every day."
But for the moment, Williams is looking forward to playing for North Carolina. He left for Chapel Hill on Wednesday and starts classes next Thursday.
"I know I still have a lot of work to do. But I know I'll get a chance to play and I hope I'll produce."