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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Three Wildcats braced for ’07 NBA Draft

    Three Wildcats braced for 07 NBA Draft

    Marcus Williams has a tattoo on his left shoulder that says “”Any Questions?””

    After being ranked as high as No. 10 in the nation before Arizona’s 2006-2007 season, his status in tomorrow’s NBA draft is a giant question mark.

    Sports Illustrated, Sporting News,,, and have not listed Williams in the first round of their mock drafts. Fox Sports’s Web site has pegged him at No. 26, and has him at No. 29.

    “”I don’t really pay attention to any of the Internet stuff,”” Williams said. “”All I can do, is on the 28th, just relax with my family. Wherever you end up, you just make the best out of the situation.””

    Thirty-five Wildcats have been drafted into the NBA and earned playing time. A few were picked and never saw the hardwood. But even as a second-rounder (he would be Arizona’s 19th, along with Steve Kerr, Gilbert Arenas, Luke Walton and Hassan Adams, just to name a few), Williams said he is ready for the NBA and the superstar lifestyle that goes with it, no matter where his destination may be.

    “”It’s a blessing for me just to be one of the 60 guys in the world to get drafted,”” he said. “”I thank God. The hardest thing is not knowing where you’re going to play. You’re not nailing it down, the teams are. They nail it down, and then you find out where you’re going to play ball, get situated with your coaches and teammates. That’s where the dream starts for hopefully the next 15 years of your life.””

    Williams looked at the NBA after his freshman year, but came back for his sophomore season. He came into last year strong, winning the preseason mile run, and then grasping America’s attention before a 20-11 season took his spotlight away.

    At 6 feet 7 inches, Williams is advertising himself as a small forward, but he can play three NBA positions, and even played a fourth in college. He’s showed tenacity, playing with two sprained wrists last season, yet he still managed to average 16.6 points per game (fourth in the Pacific 10 Conference) and 6.7 rebounds (eighth).

    “”Marcus has tremendous talent,”” said UA assistant coach Josh Pastner. “”He’s going to have a long NBA career. He’s had two great seasons for us. I think Marcus got some criticism at times because we didn’t meet the expectations this past season that we were supposed to meet. I still think he’s good enough to be a first-rounder, but a lot can happen on draft day.””

    Williams cited his coaches and former Wildcats now in the NBA for his drive to get to the NBA.

    “”(UA head) coach (Lute) Olson has done great things for me. He and the rest of the staff had me doing all the things that the pros want to see,”” Williams said. “”And every player has a mentor, or a player above him that’s made the jump. For me, it was Hassan. For Chase (Budinger), it was me. For Jerryd (Bayless), it’s now Chase, and so forth.””

    Williams did not participate in any pre-draft camps around the nation like most draft hopefuls do during the summer. Instead, he concentrated on smaller workouts in Las Vegas, a regimen prescribed by his agent, Rob Pelinka, who currently represents 11 active NBA players, including Kobe Bryant and Carlos Boozer.

    “”The workouts are a good learning experience, and I’ve come out of them with a positive attitude,”” Williams said. “”They entail a lot of one-on-one stuff, two-on-two, and shooting.””

    Two other Wildcats, point guard Mustafa Shakur and center Ivan Radenovic, have declared for the draft after their senior seasons and stand as larger question marks than Williams. Both have participated in several pre-draft camps, but neither knows for sure if he’ll be drafted.

    Shakur withdrew his name from the draft last summer on the last day to do so. He was projected to be a late second-round pick or to go undrafted.

    After averaging 11.9 ppg, most draft prognosticators are saying the same about him this time around, though there are still those who believe otherwise.

    “”His stock has improved,”” Pastner said of Shakur, who also averaged a Pac-10 best 6.94 assists per game. “”I think he’ll be a legit second-rounder.””

    Shakur has displayed his skills at camps in Orlando, Phoenix and, most recently, Miami. It would be a long shot for the Suns to draft him 24th, but being a fast-paced team, Phoenix taking him 59th is not out of the question.

    “”Mustafa has all the tools,”” Williams said. “”He’s strong, fast and can finish around the bucket.””

    The Wildcats’ third draft candidate is the 6-foot-10 Radenovic, who averaged 15.1 ppg (ninth in the Pac-10), 7.6 boards (sixth) and had a .507 field goal percentage (eighth).

    “”He’s a prototypical European-type player, and he’s had the experience of playing four years of elite, high-level college basketball,”” Pastner said. “”He’s gotten better every year. He has a high IQ of the game.””

    If Shakur and Radenovic are omitted from the draft boards, it is expected that they will play overseas or in the Continental Basketball Association.

    All Wildcat fingers are crossed in hopes that isn’t the case.

    “”Both those guys – I think when the 28th comes – will have smiles on their faces,”” Williams said. “”It’ll be a good draft day for the Wildcats.””

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