The Wolfpacker

January 2017

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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64 ■ THE WOLFPACKER WHEREARETHEYNOW? 68 season, he teamed with Bill Kretzer and helped take the Wolfpack to the ACC cham- pionship game against North Carolina, thanks in part to a slowdown, 12-10 victory over Duke in the semifinals. Williford returned as a junior and was named first-team All-ACC. As a senior in 1970, he was one of the league's best players on one of its best teams. The Pack won 16 of its first 17 games and was ranked as high as No. 5 in the nation. However, Frank McGuire-coached South Carolina was the consensus preseason fa- vorite and never dropped lower than eighth in the polls all season long. They entered the ACC Tournament with a perfect 14-0 league record. But Gamecock All-American John Roche was injured in the semifinal game against Wake Forest, and Sloan slowed down his team in the title game to pull the Gamecocks out of a 2-1-2 zone. Williford helped tie the game at 35 in regulation. Two overtimes later, teammate Ed Leftwich stole the ball at mid- court from USC freshman Bobby Cremins, and the Pack pulled off a 42-39 upset of the No. 3 Gamecocks. Williford had 18 points in the title game and was given the Case Award as the MVP, the perfect ending to a Wolfpack career that almost never happened. After graduation, Williford was a third- round pick of the Carolina Cougars of the American Basketball Association, a troubled franchise that split its home games between the Charlotte Coliseum, the Greensboro Coliseum and Raleigh's Dorton Arena. He was out of the league after one season and returned to Fort Bragg in his hometown of Fayetteville to fulfill the two years remaining on his ROTC commitment. Using the money he saved from his Cou- gars contract, Williford went into industrial equipment sales. His Atlantic Coast Toyo- talift in High Point, N.C., is one of the most successful new and used equipment fran- chises in the country, winning Toyota's Presi- dents Award on six occasions for being in the top 10 in sales. After nearly 40 years in business, Williford is gradually turning his company and its five locations in North Carolina and Virginia over to his only son Jay. His goal is to spend more time at his beach home near Wilmington, N.C., and maybe take Lucas and soccer and dance-loving granddaughter Addison to more NC State athletics events. "I'm not working nearly as hard as I used to," Williford said. "Jay has been the presi- dent of the company for the last five years. He's over the operational side of things, while I'm still doing some of the financial things. "The business is still growing, and I think it's in good hands." Like basketball legacies, some things are passed down from previous generations. ■ Tim Peeler is a regular contributor to The Wolfpacker and can be reached at (Above) Williford founded and has operated one of the most successful new and used equipment franchises in the country. (Right) Lucas Williford, Vann's 10-year old grandson, was able to shoot some free throws at renovated Reynolds Coliseum in the fall in an emotional moment for the grandfather. PHOTOS COURTESY VANN WILLIFORD

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