Family, career and basketball camp keep former Gonzaga star Nigel Williams-Goss busy

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The Nigel Williams-Goss youth basketball camp has always been a family affair. The former Gonzaga standout’s dad, Virgil, helps run the event and nephew Kaden works with young campers.

Williams-Goss added to the roster at this year’s camp, which concludes a three-day run Wednesday at The HUB Sports Center. His wife Kirstyn, a former University of Washington softball player, was Tuesday’s guest speaker, and 13-month-old son Naz showed impressive court coverage, usually with a ball in his hands and usually with Kirstyn, Virgil or Nigel’s mom, Valerie, in pursuit.

At one point, Nigel took a time out and placed Naz in his car seat for a short drive because “that’s the only way he’ll take a nap. It wasn’t happening in the gym.”

The busier the better for Williams-Goss, on and off the court. This was his fifth camp – one was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic – and they’ve all been packed. With no advertising or marketing, this one brought out nearly 130 youngsters and Williams-Goss recognized many kids who have attended every summer. Former GU point guard Laura Stockton has worked all five and Sam Dowd, a former Gonzaga Prep and North Idaho College standout, has been a mainstay.

“It’s been awesome,” Williams-Goss said. “That’s why it’s been such a good camp because we have such good counselors like Laura that have a lot of knowledge.”

Williams-Goss hasn’t been quite as active as usual this summer following ankle surgery about six weeks ago. The injury left him on the sidelines when Real Madrid was competing for a EuroLeague championship. He was on crutches until a week ago, so he’s happy just to be walking around at his camp.

He hopes to be at full speed in September as he prepares for his second season with Real Madrid. This will be his fifth season overseas after previous stops with KK Partizan (Serbia), Olympiacos (Greece) and Lokomotiv (Russia). He spent the 2019-20 season with the Utah Jazz and the organization’s G League team.

The Jazz picked Williams-Goss in the second round of the 2017 draft, a few months after Williams-Goss and the Zags fell to North Carolina in the NCAA championship game.

“I’ve been open as far as me being OK with just (being in) the best situations,” he said. “Obviously I went overseas my first year after Jazz drafted me. I’ve always been about what makes the most sense both basketball wise and financially. Last summer I had a great opportunity to sign with Madrid and that was before NBA free agency started. I wasn’t trying to wait and see what was available, I liked the deal and the opportunity to play at that level.

“To me, it’s about the right situation, whether that’s here or over there, I’m fine with either.”

Williams-Goss snuck in a few workouts at GU prior to his camp, which has become his routine when he returns to Spokane. The 2017 consensus second-team AP All-American applauds the program’s continued evolution, from facilities to developing pro players.

“It gets better and better every year,” he said. “As the program grows, everything grows and it’s just awesome to see. I’m glad to be part of the Zag family.”

Chet Holmgren, drafted second overall by Oklahoma City, and Andrew Nembhard, selected by Indiana with the first pick of the second round, add to the growing list of NBA Zags. The 7-foot Holmgren has a unique skill set and Nembhard is a solid all-around point guard.

“Chet is definitely someone who can impact both ends of the floor with his versatility on both sides of the ball,” Williams-Goss said. “At the NBA and pro level, it’s your fulltime job and as long as he continues to put in the work, which I’m sure he will do, the sky is the limit for him.

“I just remember when Andrew was transferring and having a long conversation with him, trying to explain what Gonzaga could offer and what he could bring to the Zags. Obviously that relationship was beneficial for both sides.”

The same goes for Williams-Goss, the Zags and his popular basketball camp.

“This is it,” said Williams-Goss, when asked how many camps he’s involved with. “My summers are pretty short so I don’t want to fill them up with camps, but it’s important to me to get back to Spokane and do this for the youth in the community.”

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