Suns News

Coach Williams Believes Marshall Found Right Home

Coach Williams called Marshall the best passer he's ever coached on the break.
(NBAE/Getty Images)
By Stefan Swiat,
Posted: June 28, 2012

When Kendall Marshall walked into University of North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams’ office the day before the 2012 NBA Draft, the two talked about their best-case scenario. On draft night, that scenario was realized.

Williams hoped that whichever team selected Marshall was a team that played up-tempo. When the Suns nabbed Marshall with the No. 13 pick, Williams knew that both Marshall and the Suns got exactly what they wanted.

“He was in my office yesterday for an hour and he probably didn’t sleep that much last night because he’s so excited by this next stage of his career,” the UNC Head Coach said. “We hoped that he would go to a club that liked to run because that’s the best part of his game. That’s not to mean that he can’t play in a different situation, but he’s the best passer I’ve ever had on the break.”

At UNC, Marshall earned second-team All-ACC honors after leading the league, and finishing second in the nation, in assists per game (9.8) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.5). He also broke the ACC’s single-season record for assists with 351.

After just two seasons at UNC, Marshall finished his career as North Carolina’s all-time leader in assist average (7.96) and the ACC’s leader in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.01). His season ended prematurely after he fractured a bone in his right (non-shooting) hand in an NCAA tournament third-round victory over Creighton.

A legitimate 6-4 point guard, Williams calls Marshall an “incredible quarterback.”

“He just has a great understanding of the game,” Williams said. “He knows who has four fouls on the other team and even who’s in a bad mood.”

Marshall averaged 8.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 9.8 apg, 2.8 tpg and 1.2 spg a game while shooting 47 percent from the floor and 35 percent from behind the arc last season. Despite criticism about his explosiveness, Williams believe it’s unfounded and that his other skills far outweigh any weaknesses he may have.

“He’s sneaky quick,” Williams said. “His basketball savvy, ability to pass the ball, see the floor and make instantaneous decisions is just off the charts.”

His teammate at UNC, John Henson, who was drafted a spot after him by the Bucks, had nothing but praise for his former playmaker.

“With Steve Nash at the helm and him coming in behind him I think it’s going to be a great learning experience and it’s going to springboard his career,” Henson said.

What most fans don’t know about Marshall, according to Henson, is that he chooses to be a pass-first point guard. However, when he wants to be, he can take over a game with his own offense.

“People don’t think he can score but he can really score the ball,” Henson said. “He didn’t have to this year, but I think he’s going to be a great addition to that team.”

A consummate gym rat, Williams lauded Marshall for being so coachable.

“They tell him what they want him to do and they never have to tell him twice,” Williams said. “He’s just a student of the game and always will be.”

And everything he accomplished at Chapel Hill, Williams believes will carry over to Phoenix.

“He’s just incredible, savvy out there in the backcourt,” the legendary coach said. “He’s going to provide the Phoenix fans a lot of oohs and aahs for many years.”

Any questions or comments for Stefan Swiat? Click here to send him your comments by e-mail.