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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    No choice but to leave for NBA

    No choice but to leave for NBA

    It had as much as drama as a freshman math class. There was no suspense, no shocking revelations, no pomp and circumstance and not nearly the buzz granted to the four Florida juniors who held their going away press conference just a half an hour earlier.

    As Marcus Williams sat down at the podium, a slight grin running across his face, he mouthed the words everyone expected.

    “”I’ve decided to move forward and put myself in the 2007 NBA Draft,”” he said.

    Since he sat in the same room at nearly the same time last year when he announced he would play at Arizona his sophomore season, there’s been little doubt that this day was coming.

    The coaching staff was already prepared. They gave away Williams’ scholarship in November by inking five recruits. At this point, what choice did Williams really have even if he genuinely wanted to stay?

    Ugh … coach can I get that scholarship back?

    Though he denied the NBA was on his mind – “”A lot of people may have thought throughout the year that it was on my mind, but not at all,”” he said. “”I came back with the intention of being focused on Arizona basketball,”” – it would have been at the least difficult to completely forget that the next level is on the horizon.

    “”Since last year, I think that’s been a big part of his mindset,”” UA head coach Lute Olson said after Arizona’s loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

    As for his draft stock, it’s risen slightly since last year when he was expected to be a late first-rounder, early second-rounder.

    “”Hopefully, I’ll advertise myself as a little point forward who can set up the offense.ÿWherever I’m put at I’ll be happy as long as I’m playing ball.””
    – Marcus Williams,
    sophomore forward

    Financially, he won’t making enough money to “”Make it Rain,”” but the $1 million per year salary usually allotted for the No. 20 pick in the draft means he’ll be doing just fine. The expectations and pre-season hype had Williams ranked as high as No. 10 on NBAdraft.net, before his stock plummeted as the season wore on.

    It’s not as bad as Enron though.

    He’ll still be in the “”late teens, early 20s,”” said Aran Smith, who runs NBAdraft.net.

    To his advantage, Williams can guard as many as three NBA positions. He took his hand at defending Oregon point guard Aaron Brooks, once successfully at Oregon and not so much in the Pac-10 Tournament. He also raised his point average in his sophomore season, taking the reigns as Arizona’s go-to player. He can handle the ball for his size and has a high basketball IQ.

    “”I will play anywhere…most likely a three spot, maybe some two,”” Williams said. “”Hopefully, I’ll advertise myself as a little point forward who can set up the offense. Wherever I’m put at I’ll be happy as long as I’m playing ball.””

    Because of his esteemed work ethic, Williams, who remains an unfinished product, has a chance to stick in the NBA. Still, he’ll have to prove his critics wrong first.

    You know the tattoo Williams has, the one that says “”Any questions?””

    “”I don’t think you can second-guess (his decision)
    because he’s pretty surefire in the first. A bad season next year could change that.””

    – Aran Smith,
    NBAdraft.net founder

    I’ve got a few.

    Can Williams shed the selfish image he recently built, meshing with the chemistry in the locker room but not on the court? Can he prove himself from the NBA’s 3-point range after failing from the college line? Can he help a contending team right away?

    “”He definitely appeared to be playing for himself,”” Smith said. “”Thinking more about the NBA than AZ ball. He looked like a potential lotto pick early and faded some.””

    One thing is for sure. With another scorer coming into the fold in Jerryd Bayless and a wing in Jamelle Horne, both of whom will garner playing time, Williams would have had less room for improvement next season.

    With no scholarship available, more competition, and his draft status unlikely to rise, Williams chose to not overextend his stay.

    Jumping early is usually risky, but in this case he actually played it safe.

    “”I don’t think you can second-guess (his decision) because he’s pretty surefire in the first,”” Smith said. “”A bad season next year could change that.””

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