Alan Williams Returns Home to Make NBA Mark

Alan Williams was an avid Suns fan as a kid. It didn’t hurt that his dad had a seat on the city council, which enabled him to attend a fair share of Suns games.

Over the years, Williams watched one era flow into the next. His Charles Barkley jersey was joined by those of Stephon Marbury, Shawn Marion, Shaquille O’Neal and others.

Ironically, he would face Marbury in the beginning of his pro career, which began this season in China. He never dared to assume, however, that more flashbacks with his favorite childhood team were in store.

Until his agent told him the Suns were interested in his services.

“I can’t think of another way to do it: playing for the hometown team in front of tons of family and friends,” Williams said with a smile. “Just being able to represent this organization that I’ve grown so fond of over my 23 years of living, being from Phoenix and watching the older teams play and now watching this team play, just being able to be part of that history is something that I’m really fortunate and really blessed to be able to do.”

“I can’t think of another way to do it: playing for the hometown team in front of tons of family and friends.”

— Alan Williams

Now, Williams feels more at home than most Suns players. He attended high school just three miles north of Talking Stick Resort Arena, winning two state titles and earning All-Arizona honors as a senior in 2011 for the North Mustangs.

Despite those accolades and his standing as one of the best big men in the state, colleges were slow to recognize the inherent talent in the 6-8 big man. UC Santa Barbara took a chance on him, and they were rewarded with a four-year career that produced more individual rebounds and the second-most points in school history.

More success brought more challenges. Williams went undrafted in 2015, but he kept his NBA prospects alive by dominating the NBA Summer League (20.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game in Las Vegas). His offseason performances didn’t immediately secure an NBA contract, but it did earn him work in China, where he continued to refine his game.

Now, he and the Suns are hopeful his penchant for rebounding will bolster the front line.

“He’s a great rebounder and he gives us a different dynamic that we haven’t had as far as a bruiser,” said interim head coach Earl Watson.

Williams knows nothing is guaranteed. He dons his dreamed-of uniform under the shadow of a 10-day contract. While he hopes to prolong his stay, he’s also grateful for being brought back home in the first place.

“I’m just hoping I can make the most out of those 10 days,” Williams said. “I hear they go by pretty quickly. I’m just going to soak it all in and make as much of it as I can and really enjoy, being from Phoenix, being able to put on that Phoenix Suns jersey.”