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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    It’s official: Williams to leave early for NBA

    Marcus Williams
    Marcus Williams

    When Marcus Williams returned for his sophomore season this year, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion: It would be the UA forward’s final campaign in an Arizona uniform.

    That became reality yesterday when Williams officially announced that he will forego his final two seasons at Arizona to enter June’s NBA Draft.

    “”I think I’m ready,”” said Williams, who expects to be a first-round pick. “”It’s going to give me a lot of opportunities to give back to my community. It will put me, obviously, in a good financial pocket, but also I just felt like it was time.””

    Williams, who averaged a team-high 16.6 points per game to go with 6.7 rebounds per contest on his way to All-Pacific 10 Conference honors, becomes the 10th Wildcat under head coach Lute Olson to declare early (three came back to the team before the draft).

    “”The thing that is tough in a situation like this is that you recruit young men and you get them into the program and you think they are going to be with you four years, and you’ll see a great change,”” UA associate head coach Jim Rosborough said. “”As I say, you get to know young men and you get involved with them, and to have that time cut short by a couple years is always difficult.””

    Williams said he will train away from Tucson in a location to be decided by his agent once he hires one. In the meantime, he has been working out twice a day.

    However, Williams will not drop out of school; instead, he plans on finishing the semester by doing “”online things”” and flying back to Tucson to take tests at the end of the year. Teachers will send him class notes, he said, so since he has the books he “”should be fine”” by just keeping up with the syllabus.

    If Williams had dropped out of school, Arizona would have lost two points from its Academic Progress Rate score and been in danger of losing a scholarship. It would be a crippling blow because teams must retain 92.5 percent of their points from a formula in which players gain one point for staying eligible and another for staying in school on track to graduate each semester calculated over the past few years.

    By staying in school for the semester not only will he retain the point for staying academically eligible but the point for him leaving school will not be calculated in Arizona’s score, according to UA senior associate athletic director Rocky LaRose, due to a rule for athletes who sign pro contracts.

    “”Never at any point do I want to take a scholarship away from a kid that has nothing to do with myself or my situation, so I wouldn’t want to do that,”” Williams said.

    “”I don’t want it weighted on my memory that Arizona had to tell a kid that you will have to go back through the recruiting process because of the APR,”” he added. “”There will be time (for schoolwork). I don’t think I’ll be working out 24 hours (every day).””

    When he works out, Williams plans on getting stronger, extending his shooting range to the NBA 3-point line – which is farther than the college line – and working on finishing around the basket with contact, which he said will be “”crucial”” during his individual workouts with NBA teams.

    He expects to play small forward and maybe some shooting guard at the next level and will advertise himself as a point forward who can initiate the offense as he sometimes did as a Wildcat.

    Rosborough said he believes Williams will be successful in the NBA because he works extremely hard and is working on his game in the gym “”all the time.””

    “”He will do well because he’s a smart young man,”” Rosborough said. “”He’s very, very hungry for this next step, and I think sometimes people fail to realize what the motivation is – the deep, deep, deep motivation that goes into a situation like this, and I know Marcus is very hungry for the success that he will have.””

    Before deciding to officially declare for the draft, Williams talked to his family and thought the decision over in the weeks after Arizona lost to Purdue in the first round of the NCAA Tournament March 16. The way Arizona’s season ended complicated matters because going to the Final Four had “”always been a dream”” for Williams, who called it “”sad”” his career ended without that experience.

    Although he at least gave a second thought to returning as a junior, in the end the calling of the NBA won out.

    “”You never want to end a career in that situation that we did,”” Williams said. “”Losing in the first round is something that was really painful for me.

    “”Obviously, it crossed my mind (to return), but when it came down to it, I felt like it was the right decision for me.””

    Budinger expected back

    UA forward Chase Budinger has not wavered on his decision to return to school, as he’s participated in the teams’ workouts and has been attending class, Rosborough said.

    “”That’s all the indications we have,”” he said.

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