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Sunday, November 04, 2007

MEN'S HOOPS: Decision looming for Memphis star Elliot Williams

MEN'S HOOPS: Decision looming for Memphis star

By Whitelaw Reid / wreid@dailyprogress.com | 978-7250
November 1, 2007

Where is Elliot Williams going to play college basketball? That’s the $8 trillion question for Virginia basketball fans right now.

On Friday, Williams, a five-star guard who is considered one of the best high school players in the country, will announce his choice. The finalists: Duke, Memphis, Tennessee and Virginia.

On Wednesday, Jeff Ruffin, Williams’ coach at St. George’s High School in Memphis, said he had no clue as to what his star senior would do.

“From what Elliot told me [on Tuesday], [the family] is going to sit down in the next couple of nights and make a final decision,” Ruffin said.

“I think when he set the date of Nov. 2, everybody figured he had made a choice. But I think it was more a case of just giving himself a timeline because he wants to get it done and move on with basketball practice.”

Williams is the kind of player who could turn a great recruiting class into an elite one. The 6-foot-4 combo guard can do it all. Many people expect the Memphis native, who has been compared to former Tigers standout Penny Hardaway, to eventually leave college early for the NBA.

Virginia coach Dave Leitao has already reeled in two four-star recruits in John Brandeburg and Sylven Landesberg, plus three-star prospect Assane Sene. The addition of Williams would surely vault the 2008 class into the nation’s upper echelon.

Leitao visited Williams at school on Wednesday. That came on the heels of a visit by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

“When Mike Krzyzewski walked in, it was crazy around school,” Ruffin said. “Then Dave Leitao came in [on Wednesday]. Tennessee is calling. I think Memphis is coming [today].

“It’s been a revolving door. We’ve had a lot of phone calls, a lot of coaches here. I’m kind of ready for [Friday] to hit. It’s been wild, but it does kind of take its toll after a while, so I think we’re all ready - Elliot included - for this to happen so that we can move on with our season.”

Ruffin said there has been some debate as to what time of day Williams will announce his decision. The coach said there was a strong likelihood that the press conference would be switched from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Virginia would seem to have several things in its favor. UVa was the first of the four suitors to offer Williams a scholarship, and, in previous interviews, Williams has often referred to Leitao as a “father figure.”

Ruffin also believes academics will be a big factor for Williams, who has a 3.8 GPA. If that is really true, the University of Tennessee, which has never been confused with Harvard, would seem to be on the outside looking in.

“But there are so many factors,” Ruffin quickly added. “I wouldn’t say one weighs more than another. He wants to play quickly, have a comfort level with the coaches. There’s the distance from home, the academics.

“There’s so many different things and how the family is prioritizing them I have no idea. I think from what the college coaches have told me is that they’ve done as good a job as you can do of stonewalling and sort of keeping it within the family. I really don’t think he’s made a final decision. I think he’s probably got it down to two [schools], but he just hasn’t said which ones they are.”

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