Grind and bear it: Williams helps cause
Busy workout schedule may pay off on draft night
By Jim Masilak
June 25, 2006
It's a glamorous life being a prospective first-round NBA draft choice. Airport, hotel, gym.
Having spent the past few weeks crisscrossing the country, working out for everyone from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Golden State Warriors and becoming familiar with airport lounges across the continent, Shawne Williams is ready for a break.
More than that, the former University of Memphis and Hamilton High standout is ready to finally learn his professional fate.
"It's been a long process, but I feel like it's something you've got to go through to get where you want to get to," said Williams, who on Saturday completed a 13-city blitz by working out in Oakland for the Warriors, who will draft ninth overall. "It's a lot of sitting around and waiting. I'm practicing being patient.
"It wears you down but, other than that, it's like a vacation."
Williams, who went face-up with former Tiger teammate and projected lottery choice Rodney Carney during a couple workouts, is in no doubt as to the worst moment of his grand tour.
"Sitting on an airplane and watching 'King Kong' twice," he said, apparently still shaken by the experience. "My flight from Chicago to (Philadelphia) was delayed and we sat for six hours on the runway. I got in at 4:30 (a.m.) and had to be up at 7:30. That was rough."
But Williams, who is projected by most experts as a mid-to-late first-round selection in Wednesday's NBA Draft, believes he has helped his cause by attending so many tryouts.
"I feel like I haven't had a bad workout. I feel like a lot of GMs know what I can do," Williams said. "I feel like I'll get picked in the first round."
He's not the only one.
As of Saturday afternoon, Williams was projected in various mock drafts as being either the No. 13 (CBSSportsLine.com), No. 15 (InsideHoops.com), No. 20 (DraftExpress.com) or No. 25 (NBADraft.net) overall pick in the first round of the two-round draft.
His agent, Happy Walters, expects his client to fall somewhere in between, "probably between 15 and 25."
"He hasn't really had any bad workouts," said Walters, who along with Bill McCandless represents Williams through the Santa Monica, Calif.-based Immortal Sports Agency. "I think he's safely in the first round."
Given Williams' relative inexperience -- he declared for the draft following a season in which he was named Conference USA Freshman of the Year -- and what is expected to be a volatile draft, NBA assistant scouting director Ryan Blake said it's difficult to predict exactly when Williams' name will be called.
"We don't even know who's going No. 1," Blake said. "Is he a guy who can go in the first round? Yes. Could he go in the second round? He could slip into the second round. I don't know. This is one of those crazy drafts."
Walters said no team has given Williams a promise that it would select him in the first round if available. That's in part because teams choosing in the second half of the first round have little idea who will still be on the board at that point in what is shaping up to be an unpredictable draft.
"There's no guarantee ... A lot of teams talk, but it's hard to tell what's bull and what isn't," Walters said. "He's not hung up on whether he goes 12th or 22nd. He's eager to go to a team who's really excited about him and can put him in the lineup and really use him over the next few years."
Among the teams mentioned most often in connection with the 6-9, 225-pound small forward, who averaged 13.2 points and 6.2 rebounds for the Tigers last season, include the 76ers, who own the 13th pick, the Chicago Bulls (16th), the New York Knicks (20th), the New Jersey Nets (22nd and 23rd) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (25th).
Could Williams last beyond that?
He could, Blake said, if teams load up on international players who can be left in Europe for a year or two for additional seasoning.
"Anything's possible," Walters said. "I would hope that doesn't happen, but anything's possible. I'd be surprised."
Williams disputed an ESPN.com report that said he had failed to perform even one 185-pound repetition on the bench press during the physical portion of the predraft camp in Orlando. It raised questions about the player's readiness for the NBA's 82-game regular-season slog.
Williams said he was given a "zero reps" score after skipping the bench press due to a sore shoulder.
"I hyperextended my shoulder before my Philly workout, so I didn't lift. I did everything else," said Williams, who has yet to decide whether he will return to Memphis to watch the draft or remain in the Los Angeles area, where Monday he's tentatively scheduled to appear on Fox Sports Net's "Best Damn Sports Show Period" with U of M coach John Calipari.
Williams, however, also reportedly had a lower vertical jump when allowed a step (31 inches) than while standing still (32).
While Williams ran up against most of the draft's top prospects during his travels, it was Washington two guard Brandon Roy who impressed him most.
"But I know I stood out in a lot of people's minds too," said Williams, "Whoever picks me, whatever team likes me, I'm gonna like them back. I believe one of them is gonna like me."
-- Jim Masilak: 901-529-2311