In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a youngster toiled on the playgrounds and in the gyms of eastern Kanawha County and beyond as he began to master the basketball skills which eventually led to an NBA world championship with the Miami Heat in 2006.

That man, Jason Williams, will pop back into his home state for a visit around the time of the West Virginia boys high school state basketball tournament.

The former DuPont, Marshall/Florida and NBA standout will be the focus of an autograph event from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 14 at the Charleston Town Center. The autograph signing will be sponsored by Select Cards and Collectables, with sponsorship assistance from others including Poca Valley Bank, Haus Media and the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

According to SCC representative Jeremy Stout, interest in the Williams signing event has been big. "You wouldn't believe the interest we've had," Stout noted while saying autograph requests have been received from France, Australia and other locales.

Those present at the signing that day with a ticket can have Williams autograph an item for $25. There will also be a mail-in option, in which individuals can send their items for Williams to sign ahead of the show. That will cost more, depending on whether it's a photo, ball, jersey or another item.

Autograph tickets can be purchased at Select Cards and Collectables, 105A A Street, South Charleston, WV 25303.

On March 14, there will be a limited VIP opportunity for $75, which will allow the fan prime location near the head of the line, one autograph and a photo with Williams.

Williams will not pose for photos other than with those who buy the VIP package.

For information on sending mail-in items, email selectcandc@hotmail.com.

The Williams autograph signing will occur during a four-day sports card show sponsored by SCC at the Town Center, said Stout. About 50 tables will be set up for dealers to offer a variety of collectibles. A few tables are still available. Anyone interested in setting up is asked to contact selectcandc@hotmail.com.

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Williams was a star at DuPont High School, helping lead the Panthers to the 1994 Class AAA title game, which they lost 79-73 to Martinsburg. Among his teammates was future NFL Hall of Famer Randy Moss. Williams was named West Virginia player of the year by USA Today that year.

After a collegiate career which included stops at Marshall and Florida, Williams was drafted No. 7 by the Sacramento Kings in 1998. He was a member of the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1998 and eventually played for the Kings for three playoff seasons before being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, where he spent the next four seasons. After that, he played three campaigns in Miami and one-plus in Orlando before returning to Memphis to close out his career in 2010-11.

In 2005-06, Williams was the starting point guard for the Miami Heat during the season in which they captured the NBA championship. Williams averaged 12.3 points and 4.9 assists per game that year.

In his NBA career, he averaged 10.5 points and 5.9 assists per contest.

— Email skeenan@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @gb_scribe

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