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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Williams decides to return to Wildcats

    Freshman forward Marcus Williams addresses the media at a press conference yesterday afternoon. Williams announced that he will return to Arizona for his sophomore season. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)
    Freshman forward Marcus Williams addresses the media at a press conference yesterday afternoon. Williams announced that he will return to Arizona for his sophomore season. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)

    Amid speculation and rumors that Marcus Williams already had one foot in the NBA door, the freshman forward chose to stay at least another year at Arizona.

    The Seattle native said he made the decision on Tuesday by consulting mostly with his mom, Gayle Williams, his Amateur Athletic Union coach, Darrell Hennings, and the Arizona coaching staff. When his mom asked him if he was going to go past the deadline and regret it, Williams said, “”I was able to tell her a confident no.””

    “”I just wanted to be a part of being able to be the man on the team and taking that leadership role,”” he said in a press conference yesterday.

    Williams averaged 13 points per game and was named to the All-Pacific 10 Conference Freshman team. He said he considered leaving, but ultimately it came down to being a valuable player in the NBA.

    “”It was a real juggle back and forth,”” Williams said. “”At a certain point, I did think it was the best for me because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Growing up, you’re 6 years old and you dream of playing there, and it’s right there in front of you and it’s hard to say no.

    “”It really came down to me just wanting to be able to go in the league and be effective.””

    Williams said he did not tell the coaching staff about the decision until he announced it, but Arizona head coach Lute Olson was quickly informed and issued a statement.

    “”We’re thrilled that Marcus has decided to stay. … I had no doubt that he would be better off coming back for his sophomore season,”” Olson said.

    Because of his projected draft status, ranked as high as No. 17 by NBAdraft.net, Williams said the decision was extremely tough.

    “”Anyone who would be in my shoes, it’s something you have to look at because it wasn’t a case I was second-round or anything like that,”” he said. “”It was a good situation, and for someone who’s always wanted to play in the NBA, I had to look at it.

    “”That was the biggest thing; I love to play basketball, I don’t like to watch. I want to go in, get another season under my belt and go and be able to be the man and come in with expectations like I’m going to do something.””

    Williams’ decision means the return of the “”Three Kings,”” as he joins returning freshmen guard J.P. Prince and forward Fendi Onobun on next year’s roster.

    “”I was teasing him a little bit, but I’m happy he’s staying,”” Onobun said. “”He’ll make our team a lot stronger.””

    Williams plans to go home to Seattle during summer presession, then come back to Tucson for the first summer session, which spans June 5 through July 6, and go home once again for the second summer session. While he said he would try to focus on every part of his game, he highlighted gaining strength as his biggest priority.

    Williams said he did not strongly consider testing the draft process without hiring an agent if he had left.

    “”I talked to coach a lot about that, but I didn’t want to be the mystery guy,”” Williams said. “”I felt like if I was gonna go, I was gonna go and put it all out there.””

    Olson’s theory throughout his tenure at Arizona is that the biggest jump in improvement is from one’s freshman year to his sophomore year, a position in which Williams finds himself.

    “”As a freshman, you go in there and you step in deep water, and now you know what type of work ethic you have to go into the season with, and I think we have a great team coming back,”” Williams said.

    Olson said he did not want Williams or any of his players leaving just for the sake of being drafted if their games weren’t developed enough yet for them to become successful NBA veterans.

    “”I was always talking to our guys about setting yourself up for a career in the NBA,”” Olson said in the statement. “”It’s not about being drafted, it’s about playing and staying and making a career of it. His decision will help him do just that.””

    Joining Williams in a possible starting lineup are will-be seniors forward Ivan Radenovic, center Kirk Walters and point guard Mustafa Shakur – if he withdraws from the NBA draft – and incoming freshman forward Chase Budinger, if his game develops as projected.

    Williams took his game to another level in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 17 points and 7.5 rebounds per game against No. 9-seeded Wisconsin and No. 1-seeded Villanova. He said he hopes to take next year’s team to Atlanta, where the Final Four will be held.

    “”He’ll definitely get better, and he’ll develop himself as a player and as a person with another year,”” Radenovic said.

    The coaching staff did not pressure Williams to return but rather laid off, an approach that seemed to pay off.

    “”If we were there pressuring, pressuring, pressuring, it wouldn’t have been a good idea,”” said Jim Rosborough, Arizona’s associate head coach.

    Williams said he took advice from an old friend from Washington, forward Marvin Williams, who left North Carolina after his freshman year to be drafted second overall by the Atlanta Hawks. Marcus said Marvin told him he misses college a lot since he’s been gone.

    While several Web sites, including ESPN.com and Foxsports.com, had Williams declaring for the draft, Arizona’s arguable go-to guy next season put a cheer into the Arizona coaching staff, some of whom stood at the back of the press room.

    “”This makes it a brighter day, I’ll say that,”” Rosborough said.

    Players upbeat after Euro trip cancellation

    Despite the fact that the European odyssey has been cancelled, Radenovic said he will still spend time in his native Serbia and Montenegro. He said his mom predicted the team wouldn’t go on the trip to Europe.

    “”I’m not disappointed, that’s just how it is,”” he said.

    Williams said he didn’t think Arizona would have enough players to field a team on the trip.

    “”Maybe another time, I guess,”” he said.

    Meanwhile, Onobun said it was unfortunate but that the trip to Canada may help the team more in the long run.

    “”It would have been an experience to go out of the country … but we’ll go to Vancouver with a full team, so it’ll be great,”” Onobun said.

    Radenovic to try out for Serbian Team

    Radenovic may play for the Serbian National Team in competition at the World Championships in late August. While he will still have to try out and make the team, Radenovic said it would be exciting to play with NBA stars like Indiana forward Peja Stojakovic and Clippers forward Vladimir Radmanovic.

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