|Williams started 51 of 70 games at UConn.|
(Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty Images)
The junior from UConn was being touted as the best point guard in the 2006 draft class and with many teams needing a floor general he was certain to be a lottery pick.
But there Williams sat, pick after pick. He saw former Husky teammates Rudy Gay and Hilton Armstrong get taken within the first 12 picks. And after Rodney Carney from Memphis was selected with the 16th overall selection, Williams was the last player in the green room waiting to get drafted.
Then Commissioner Stern strode to the podium and said the words Williams had been waiting a lifetime to hear.
With the 22nd selection in the 2006 NBA Draft, the New Jersey Nets select Marcus Williams from the University of Connecticut.
“When the Nets picked me, I forgot about the previous 21 (picks) and knew I was coming here,” Williams said.
Williams was an All-Big East Second Team selection last season in a highly-competitive basketball conference and was a major reason the Huskies made it to the Elite Eight in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
With such an impressive college career and coming from a program like UConn where NBA players are seemingly breed, Williams sounds determined to silence his critics.
“It’s a natural thing,” Williams said. “I feel like I always have something to prove. You can never get too comfortable. I’m really motivated now to prove to people that the Nets selection was a great pick.”
If Williams does eventually lose that chip on his shoulder, new teammate Vince Carter will be there to help him regain it.
“We’re going to help him with that,” Carter said. “He’s a great point guard and should have definitely gone higher.
“It’s all about situations and (teams) must have felt he didn’t fit with what they needed. Regardless of where you go, it’s all about what you do when you get on somebody’s team,” Carter finished.
The scouting report on Williams is he has outstanding court vision and knows how to control the tempo of a game. When the game is on the line Williams is clutch especially from the free throw line. In the NCAA tournament, Williams shot .957 from the charity stripe.
“Without a doubt he was the one who held us together, Josh Boone said, his former UConn teammate and the Nets’ 23rd pick. “The way (UConn) Coach Calhoun runs the team; the point guard is responsible for everything. So he had to be strong, he had to be the one to push us all along.
The situation in New Jersey is not unlike that at Connecticut. Head Coach Lawrence Frank’s offensive scheme runs through Captain Jason Kidd. Williams will have the privilege of learning along side the future Hall of Famer.
“The first thing I thought about (after being drafted) was Jason Kidd and being a sponge to him and just picking up everything he has to offer,” Williams said of Nets’ starting point guard.
The transition from college basketball to the professional ranks will be easier for Williams having Boone as teammate in New Jersey. The pair played three seasons together at the University of Connecticut and were roommates for two of those years.
“You know if you get frustrated or lonely, you have someone you can talk to,” Williams said.
Williams likely won’t have time to get lonely. In addition to participating in the 2006 Pepsi Pro Summer League in Orlando, FL, he will be busy improving him game and proving the doubters wrong.
Williams said, “I’m going to be in the gym as much as possible and approach next season as if I have something to prove.”