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U.S. Hero Tim Howard

PREP BASKETBALL PHENOM

'Smothered' Jay Williams In '97 Championship

7/2/2014 10:21 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Exclusive Details

0702-tim-howard-jay-williams-getty-01Before he became a soccer legend, Team USA goalie Tim Howard was a high school basketball phenom -- who "smothered" Jay Williams in a County Championship game ... TMZ Sports has learned. 

We spoke with Tim's former hoops coach Ed Breheney -- who ran the basketball program at North Brunswick Township High School in New Jersey -- who tells us Howard was a baller.

"Timmy was the greatest defensive [basketball] player that I've ever seen," Breheney said. 

"Tim had several D1 offers ... but at that time he'd already committed to U.S. soccer. I think he disappointed a lot of college basketball coaches." 

Breheney notes, "He would always use the term 'represent' -- he'd tell the team, 'let's represent our school.' Back then he was doing it for North Brunswick. It's the same thing now, except a little bigger. He's representing the United States." 

As for Jay Williams -- Breheney says he remembers the game well ... it was in 1997 and Tim led his team over Jay's St. Joe's High School 66 to 55. 

"Tim covered Jason Williams in the [county championship] game and he played smothering defense on him."  

Of course, Williams went on to play for Duke and was later drafted by the Chicago Bulls. 

Breheney says he's proud of Tim -- but not surprised ... telling us the guy has always had what it takes to be a superstar athlete. For more sports stories, check out tmzsports.com!
38 COMMENTS

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1.

boo boo    

Are you really a "soccer legend" when you don't even advance to the finals?

78 days ago
2.

TheTryke    

Tim ****in' Howard!

78 days ago
3.

cristiana    

isnt this the goalie that just got the u.s. kicked out of the world cup soccer games by allowing the other team to score goals against us? he was blaming everyone else but himself for the other teams win. why is he a hero?

78 days ago
4.

Truth    

Everyone look over the fact that he choked in OT twice. The media have to make a celebrity out of this.

78 days ago
5.

Truth    

DUDE SUFFERS FROM TOURETTES SYNDROME... NO WONDER HE LOOKS HIGH ALL THE TIME. #TRUTH!!

77 days ago
6.

Lucky_130    

Tim Howard ROCKS!!!

77 days ago
7.

Raymond    

You know ppl have no clue about soccer when they start blaming the easiest target after a loss, the goalie. Howard was plain awesome, his performance made it into history books and he garnered unequivocal international praise with this game. I can only hope he won't get denied due recognition in his homeland.

77 days ago
8.

Cromulent    

I don't know how many people outside soccer understand that Howard is a legit world-class athlete. Not all goalies are. Like his backup - whom I'm a big fan of - Brad Guzan.

77 days ago
9.

bring back recent posts    

TMZ......you need to research the definition of a HERO. This spectacular soccer player does not fit description. Geesh.

77 days ago
10.

NightmareVirus    

Lets face it, no US soccer player so far is remotely close to being able to be called a legend.

The World Cup this year was an upset as few teams were able to fully withstand the Brazilian climate.

True fact.

77 days ago
11.

iketurnerjr    

wow - the guy is an all-around defensive genius. the nba dodged a bullet. he would have made basketball just as scoreless and boring as soccer.

77 days ago
12.

Raymond    

no US soccer player so far is remotely close to being able to be called a legend


I believe you're mistaken there, To find a goalie with a similar number of saves in a single game you have to go back 50 years or so. And in soccer, no single outstanding individual achievement is easily forgotten, across teams and nations. For many years to come, if any goalie comes close to accomplish a similar feat, you can count on Howard's name be be mentioned.


Apart from that, the most likely reason why the US team lost is because they played for reaching the finals and not - like they usually do - to reach the next round. And, as you've already hinted at, to get to the finals in Brazil you have to play a "lazy" game and try to secure your win with the least possible effort. That's what all the big teams do, and that's why Belgium is quite likely to go out the next round. Because they went "all in", a pretty much deadly strategy in that climate.

77 days ago
13.

SBTZMom    

Tim Howard.... Great soccer player-goalie! But he has the biggest veins in his head I've ever seen.... Hard to take your eyes off its four head on both sides when he's talking!

77 days ago
14.

Timmy-Boy    

Whaaaat? I dont understand your headline TMZ

77 days ago
15.

who cares    

hero and legend he is not.... far from it he freaking kicks a ball around for a living BFD

77 days ago
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