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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Is Shawne Williams Gone For Good?

Shawne gone?

Memphis' forward working hard at elite training site

By Gary Parrish, Memphis Commercial Appeal

May 16, 2006

DESTIN, Fla. -- Shawne Williams has taken residency at an elite training facility on the West Coast in a development that could indicate the University of Memphis freshman plans to remain in the NBA draft. Officials at Athletes' Performance in Los Angeles confirmed Monday that Williams has been training there the past nine days and has no projected departure date. Like most other current clients -- among them Connecticut point guard Marcus Williams -- the 6-9 forward flew to the facility and is staying at a local hotel, meaning even if Shawne Williams opted to withdraw from the draft by the June 18 deadline and return to the UofM, the NCAA would not allow it unless he could prove all expenses were paid in an appropriate manner as it pertains to NCAA guidelines, i.e., without aid from an agent or outside influence.

Charlie Wright -- general manager of the L.A. branch of Athletes' Performance, a company whose list of clients includes soccer icon Mia Hamm, Major League Baseball star Curt Schilling, future NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre and the top pick in last month's NFL draft, Mario Williams -- declined to name the price Williams is paying while explaining how fees vary. But a source in the industry with knowledge of Athletes' Performance told The Commercial Appeal the cost likely ranges from $10,000 to $20,000, which is a large figure relative to Williams' well-documented background as a native of South Memphis with an impoverished lifestyle. A projected first-round selection, Williams did not return a phone message seeking comment. His grandfather, Leon Williams, declined comment.

The training seems to be going well.

Wright said Williams' schedule consists of an early wake-up call, breakfast, a basketball session and some therapy based on needs. That's all before lunch. Then comes an extensive weight room session and a technical basketball session where he works on shooting and other mechanical issues before doing it all again the following day.

"We're simply trying to develop proper core stability and strength to add to Shawne's extremely talented basketball game," said Wright, who added that multiple NBA teams have already been to the facility to evaluate Williams. "Shawne has really come in with a phenomenal attitude. He understands the process of what he has to do from a basketball standpoint and from a physical standpoint."

In a related note, officials at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., confirmed Monday that Memphis sophomore guard Darius Washington is training at their facility. It's also unclear exactly what kind of expenses Washington is incurring, but the IMG Web site indicates residency from the end of the college season until the draft costs $6,000. Weeklong sessions are $850.

-- Gary Parrish: 901-529-2365

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