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Marvin Williams to enter NBA draft
Seattle Times staff reporter
Marvin Williams, considered one of the top players ever to bounce a basketball at a high school in Washington, is turning pro after helping North Carolina win the NCAA championship his freshman season.
Last year, there was talk of Williams possibly jumping directly to the NBA from Bremerton High School and being a lottery pick, but instead the 6-foot-9 forward went to North Carolina. His Bremerton teams failed to qualify for a state tournament, but he leaves college 1 for 1 in NCAA-championship attempts.
Williams joined teammates Raymond Felton and Sean May, who completed their junior seasons, at a news conference yesterday in Chapel Hill, N.C. All three players announced they were entering the draft. Tar Heels guard Rashad McCants made a similar announcement April 13.
Williams is expected to be a top-five pick in the draft June 28, and could be the No. 1 choice.
The Charlotte Bobcats have two chances at a top-three selection in the lottery, and a source with knowledge of the team's thinking said Williams would sit atop the team's draft board if he turned pro.
Williams might have to switch positions from power forward to small forward, but he seemingly has the lateral quickness and perimeter shot to play the position.
"I don't feel like the three spot (small forward) will give me any trouble," Williams said yesterday at the news conference.
Williams said the money he earns will help his mother, Andrea Gittens, raise his two younger brothers and get medical attention for her back problem.
At Bremerton High, Williams became the first player in state history to be named to Parade Magazine's "first team" of the top 10 high-school players in the country. Martell Webster of Seattle Prep became the state's second Parade first-team member last month.
Williams never started a game at North Carolina but was valuable off the bench, averaging 11 points. In his senior season at Bremerton, he averaged 28.7 points, 15.5 rebounds and five blocks. Williams didn't have a strong supporting cast at Bremerton, and the team was 35-34 in his three seasons.
Of Williams, Felton and May, North Carolina coach Roy Williams said, "I've coached a lot of great players, and these three here are at the top of the list."
Jawad Williams, Jackie Manuel and Melvin Scott completed their eligibility, leaving the Tar Heels without their top seven scorers from the 2004-05 season for next season.
North Carolina has one player on its roster who started a game last season — point guard Quentin Thomas, who replaced the suspended Felton in the opener. Thomas attended the news conference, along with little-used point guard Wes Miller.
Roy Williams said he looks forward to the challenge of rebuilding the Tar Heels.
"If the program was devastated, I'd be leaving with them," the coach said. "We're still going to show up on game night. That's the attitude I'm going to have.
"You might beat me, but you're not going to have to beat me by hitting me in the back. I'm going to come right at you."
Felton, May and McCants were part of a heralded class recruited by former coach Matt Doherty. But the Tar Heels sputtered during their freshman season and Doherty resigned under pressure.
In their second season under Roy Williams, who left Kansas to coach his alma mater, the Tar Heels won the NCAA crown, beating Illinois 75-70 in the championship game in St. Louis.
May addressed the coach, who joined his players for their group announcement.
"I really didn't know the talent I had, and when you came here, you brought that out," May said.
Underclassmen who don't sign with an agent can return to school without losing their eligibility if they withdraw from the draft by June 21. But Roy Williams closed that loophole quickly yesterday.
"These youngsters have made their decisions," the coach said. "They're going to the NBA."
The Associated Press and Knight Ridder Newspapers contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company