Former Terps center/forward Jordan Williams may not have realized his importance when he submitted his name to the 2011 NBA Draft, but now after being selected with the 36th selection in last Thursday’s NBA Draft by the New Jersey Nets, his career is going to be watched for an even bigger reason.
Following Jordan Williams out of Maryland was legendary coach Gary Williams, and with Jordan being the focal point of Gary’s final run in College Park, that also means that Jordan Williams maybe will Gary Williams’ last project to be sent to the NBA.
But Williams-who took a lot of criticism from Terps nation and NBA experts alike-said he felt like he was more ready to move on and is ready and honored to carry on what Gary Williams taught him at College Park toward his NBA game.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Jordan told Glenn Clark and Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” Monday. “Just knowing the list of guys that he’s put through the league…for me to be a part of that list is just unbelieveable. I’m definitely excited.”
As a freshman in 2009-2010, Jordan Williams formed a solid 1-2 punch with senior guard Greivis Vasquez as Maryland made its way to an ACC Title. Making an impact right away, he was second in the conference in rebounding and was expected to take an even bigger role in the offense going forward the following season with Vasquez moving on to the NBA.
Which he did.
And despite freshman Terrell Stoglin coming on late in 2010-2011, Jordan Williams found himself as the team’s only option his sophomore year in College Park. On the Naismith Watch to start the year, Williams averaged a double-double (16.9 PPG, 11.8 RPG) for the Terps this year, becoming one of the best players in the country.
He recorded 13 straight double-doubles as a matter of fact, breaking the longtime record set by Len Elmore and ended the season with 25 overall-also good for second best in the nation.
But with Maryland missing both the NCAA and NIT Tournaments and with question marks about both the program and the future of the NBA, Williams announced he was leaving the University of Maryland and signed with longtime agent Andy Miller of ASM Sports.
That decision, and his eventual selection by the Nets in the 2nd round last week, ended his career as a Terp.
Williams told Clark and Nelson that he’s heard every reason as to why people think he left College Park early to go pro.
But he doesn’t care.
“There’s been a lot of talk about why I did it,” Williams said, “but now I’m definitely happy I made the decision to leave.”
But it wasn’t always his intent from the start.
Williams did say he was planning to make to return to College Park after first testing the draft waters in Las Vegas before signing on with ASM, but ultimately he kept hearing good things about his draft stock at those workouts forcing him to move forward with his transition to the next level.
“I was planning on coming back,” Williams said, “but when I went out there my confidence built and I made such strides. I changed my body too much and it was just the right time for me to go.”
Williams said he consulted as many people as possible before making the decision to turn his back on Maryland, but ultimately the backing of two individuals- Gary Williams and Greivis Vasquez-made the decision that much easier.
“Greivis was very positive on my decision as well,” Williams said. “He just gave me all the advice he could which was, ‘Do whatever you feel is best and don’t buy into what other people tell you because you’ll have to live through it’.”
And he was surprised to see his coach as supportive as he was given the fact he knew Gary wanted Jordan Williams back in his lineup.
“He definitely helped me out a lot,” Jordan said. “He was a huge influence on my life basketball-wise. He knows so much about past players going into the league and making the right decision, so I asked him his advice and what he thought.”
“He definitely gave me a lot of good information as far as making the decision.”
Those staring at the situation from afar said that Jordan Williams entering the NBA Draft was ultimately the determining factor in Gary Williams’ abrupt retirement after 22 years coaching the Terps.
The former student-athlete and third-team All-American said that knowing Gary for as long as he had, he knows that his coach would not have made that rash of a decision over one player leaving, even if it was him.
“Knowing Coach, I know he wouldn’t make a decision after just one situation or one event that happened,” Williams said. “I know he put a lot of time and effort into his decision and did it for all the right reasons.”
Jordan said those same critics didn’t stop there-saying that he could have maybe done himself better by staying one more year at Maryland to fine tune his game. But again, Williams said just being in the NBA and going to a class-organization like the New Jersey Nets is all he can ask for.
“I couldn’t have gone to a better organization, a better place, or a better situation being a rookie coming into the league,” Williams said. “A lot of people were talking about maybe as high as 25 (where his new teammate Marshawn Brooks was drafted by the Celtics who then immediately shipped him to NJ) but at the end of the day I kind of knew where I was falling and I knew the teams and the different slots.”
In the end, Williams said-it was all about getting the call in general.
“I was just excited that my name was gonna even be called at that point…I didn’t even care what the number was.”
Williams says now it’s about getting ready to play in the NBA and getting comfortable with his new teammates, including two-time All-Star guard Deron Williams.
“Deron’s a great guy..one of the best in the league,” Williams said. “For me to be a part of his team, I’m speechless to get the chance to meet him and I’m so excited to pick his brain and learn so much about him.”
Williams has already been told by scouts to prepare himself to play the #4 power forward on the floor, meaning he’ll probably have to lose some weight from his 6’10”, 260-lb frame.
“I know that’s my goal,” Williams said. “That’s where they have met set up. That’s where I worked out for, and that’s why I’ve been trying to change my body from a five to a four. They saw that, and they’re definitely excited for me to start at that position and do what I can to help this team win a world championship.”
And ultimately for those still worried about the lack of his presence in the Comcast Center this winter, he knows that the keys have been left in good hands with Mark Turgeon coaching and, Terrell Stoglin, Pe’Shon Howard, James Padgett and others on the court.
“I talked to them all recently and they’re excited about it,” Williams said of the upcoming season. “They’re great players. They have a great head on their shoulders and great work ethic and they’re going to put themselves in a position to succeed.”
WNST thanks Jordan Williams for joining “The Mobtown Sports Beat” Monday morning! Be sure to follow Jordan on Twitter @JWilliams20 and continue to follow WNST-We Never Stop Trying to Save You Money!