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Marcus Williams Elects to Stay in School
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: April 28, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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TUCSON, Ariz. ?- University of Arizona men’s basketball player Marcus Williams has decided to return to school for his sophomore season in 2006-07.


Williams, a 6-foot-7, 205-pound freshman forward from Seattle, Wash., averaged 13.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game, while shooting 45.3 percent from the floor in 33 appearances (25 starts) in 2005-06.  Williams ranked second on the team in scoring and three-point field goals (30), third in assists (61) and rebounding, and was fourth in steals (32).


“Obviously for anyone in my shoes, the NBA is something you have to look at,” said Williams, “but I feel like I’ve improved so much while I’ve been here.  It would definitely be beneficial for me to stay and get better under Coach Olson.”


The announcement ended speculation that Williams might make himself available for the 2006 NBA Draft.  The deadline for entry is April 29.


Williams finished in double figures 22 times in 2006-07, including his last six consecutive games.  He led the team in scoring six times as a freshman and scored 20 or more points on four occasons.  His 430 points scored this year were the seventh-most by a freshman in school history.


“We’re thrilled that Marcus has decided to stay,” said head coach Lute Olson.  “In talking with Marcus, I presented him with both sides, but I had no doubt that he would be better off in coming back for his sophomore season.  Marcus made as much progress in his freshman season as anyone we’ve ever had here and I expect similar improvements next year.  We’re excited to have Marcus back.  He will make a huge difference with the makeup of our team next season.”


Williams kept his name from a list of eight other Wildcats to declare early for the NBA Draft during the Lute Olson era:  Brian Williams (1991), Mike Bibby (1998), Gilbert Arenas (2001), Jason Gardner (2001), Richard Jefferson (2001), Michael Wright (2001), Andre Iguodala (2004) and Chris Rodgers (2005).  Of that list, only Gardner and Rodgers returned to school and completed their eligibility.


The 2006 NBA Draft is scheduled for Wednesday, June 28, at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.


As of today, Arizona is scheduled to return 10 letterwinners from a 2005-06 club that posted a 20-13 record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.  Junior guard Mustafa Shakur made himself eligible for the 2006 NBA Draft on April 12, but could also return for the 2006-07 season.



Marcus Williams Press Conference Quotes

April 27, 2006


Opening Statement

Obviously we’re here (because) there has been a lot of rumor and a lot of speculation about what I’m going to do, so I thought it would be easier to handle it (this way).


I’d like to say that the coaching staff has been great as far as helping me with the decision.  Coach (Olson) basically gave me the information.  I thank my mom for being there, supporting me, and coming down and helping me with all of the information.  It had to be my decision so I will return to Arizona for the 2006-07 season as a sophomore.


In his season-ending press conference Coach Olson stressed that this would be a very important summer for you in terms of improvement.  How much did that play into things?

He really emphasizes that with everyone.  This is the biggest improvement.  You grow up.  You come back and you know what to expect from the college basketball experience.  As a freshman you go in there and you step into deep water.  Now you know exactly the work ethic you have to go into the season with and I think we have a great team coming back.  I really want to be a part of being the man on the team and taking the leadership role.  That will help me grow.  This team will have the potential to do a lot of big things.


At what point did you make the final decision?

Probably Tuesday.  I just did the pros and cons.  Obviously for anyone in my shoes, the NBA is something you have to look at.  It wasn’t a case of where I was sitting around or anything like that.  It was a good situation.  For someone who has always wanted to play in the NBA, you had to look at it.


I feel like I’ve grown as a man.  I felt like I’ve improved so much while I’ve been here.  It would definitely be beneficial for me to be a star in the league to stay and get better under coach.


With the information you were getting, were you comfortable that you were going to be a first-round pick?
Yes.  Some people assumed that I would go between 12 and 20.  That’s what I was hearing.  But I don’t want to go in there ?- I love playing basketball, but I wanted to go in there and play.  That might have been up in the air.  I might have been in a situation where I could have played, who knows?  I like to play basketball, I don’t like to watch.  I wanted to get another season under my belt and then go in and be able to be the man and know what the expectations are of having to produce at a high level.


Are you breathing a sigh of relief now that the decision is over?

It’s been pretty crazy for the last three weeks.  When I talked with my mom, she asked is this really what you want to do?  Are you going to go back after the deadline and regret it?  I was able to tell her confidently no.  This is definitely a decision that I will stick with and am getting ready to move on.


You had a lot of people thinking that you were gone.  Were you ever at that point?

It was a real struggle back and forth.  At a certain point, I did feel like that would be best for me.  It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  Growing up, you are six years old and you are dreaming of playing there (the NBA), and it’s right there in front of you.  It’s hard to say no.  I felt like maybe I should take this opportunity and do it.  But like I said before, it really came down to me just wanting to be able to go into the league and be effective and walk in with that confident swagger that says I’m ready to play at this level.


Did the lack of high schoolers in the draft make a difference?

No.  I wasn’t very worried about who else was in the draft.  You can only worry about yourself.  Obviously, you have to look at your position.  Obviously, next year the draft will be deeper.  Me returning this year says that I definitely have a lot of confidence in my game, hopefully, to play at an All-American level next year.


Did you speak with anyone specifically who said that maybe you should stay?

You can talk to people with ties, but you can’t talk to general managers as an underclassman.  People around the program helped me contact (people).  This program is definitely well connected with the NBA with all of the stars who are in the league now.  They just collected the information as they knew and kind of fed it to me.  They were great about it.  Obviously, they were biased and wanted me to come back, but they left it up to me.


You have the confidence to join that list of alums in the NBA, but is the focus back on college now?

College is fun.  I think the camaraderie (is important).  I know a couple of  people who play professional basketball and that is something that they miss.  It’s a grown man’s league.  It’s a business.  Definitely people hang out, but it’s not the same.  Obviously, it’s (college basketball) exciting.  You can sit down and talk to coach about just about anything.


I wanted to be a part of something.  Last year, we stumbled a little bit.  I feel like this year I and the rest of the team can step up and do a lot of big things....special stuff.


What was Lute’s reaction when you told him?

I haven’t told coach yet..  I haven’t told anyone yet, except of the coaches in the back (of the room).


Was the idea of sitting on an NBA bench for a year or two one of the factors?

I did a lot of thinking about that.  I know myself and I’m pretty determined in any circumstance, so I knew that maybe I could go through a year and sit on the bench.  But I wanted to come in and be the man.  I’ve been an underdog enough in my career.  I want to go in and have those high stakes.  I want to be well established.  I don’t want to be a mystery guy in the draft.


Is there anything that you will be working on?

My selling point is to work on everything.  I’m a jack of all trades.  I want to extend my range, get stronger...that’s the biggest emphasis.  Ball handling and becoming a leader and growing as a man as far as being out there on the court and leading these guys to Atlanta.


It sounds like you are hoping to be a lottery pick:

That’s what I’m going to go for.  I’m going to want to be the number one pick in the draft.  That’s how you have to go about it.


The freshman class stays in tact for another season:

Those guys are great.  The freshmen, we’re really close.  We had our ups and downs throughout the season, but now it’s going to be great.  Those guys are playing well.  The rest of the team has a lot of confidence.  I think it’s going to be a different look next year.  It’s going to be exciting.


Did you talk with a lot of people?

To be honest, I don’t have an entourage.  I’m not that kind of guy.  Basically, it’s just my mom and my AAU coach, who is a father figure, and the coaching staff.  I don’t have a whole bunch of people.  They might try to be in my ear, but I’m grown.  I’m not going to listen to people who haven’t been there from the start.


The coaching staff didn’t really bother me about it (my decision).  Coach said yesterday when I went to his office, whatever you decide, the Arizona program will always be there for you.  I definitely respect him for that.  He’s helped me big time with this decision.



Arizona associate media relations director Richard Paige reads a statement from head coach Lute Olson:

“We’re thrilled that Marcus has decided to stay.  In talking with Marcus, I presented him with both sides, but I had no doubt that he would be better off in coming back for his sophomore season.  Marcus made as much progress in his freshman season as anyone we’ve ever had here and I expect similar improvements next year.”


“I always talk to our guys about setting yourself up for a career in the NBA.  It’s not about being drafted, it’s about playing and staying, and making a career of it.  His decision will help him do just that.


“We’re excited to have Marcus back.  He will make a huge difference with the makeup of our team next season.”


Arizona men’s basketball associate head coach Jim Rosborough:

Well, we didn’t know.  Marcus said it.  Everyone was taking a low-key approach.  In talking to some people around him, I think he was getting some advice.  We felt if we were there pressuring, pressuring, pressuring, it just wasn’t a good idea.


I agree with Coach (Olson), this makes a huge difference in our team next year.  You know the guys coming in, you know the people returning.  From my own standpoint, I left the floor in Philadelphia thinking we have a shot to win it next year with the people we have coming back.  Obviously, Marcus is part of that.


He’s really a good kid.  He’s one of the best guys we’ve had here in terms of personality.  You heard him here, he has his head on pretty straight.  He obviously can play.  He’s got a great shot to have a fabulous year next year.


What is your reaction to a young person making a life decision?

I assume everyone here went to some degree of college.  It’s a fun experience.  I think we make it fun in the program.  Yes, it’s hard work and there is pressure to win and all, but I think he has good teammates.  I think the college experience here is fun.  It certainly can’t hurt.  He’s 19 years old and I think the guys here that have stayed a few years ?- it’s worked out well for them.


I think we coach them well.  I think the experience here at the University of Arizona is good.  I don’t think there is any negative to him staying.  He knows what is going to happen here.  I think we are going to be very, very good next year, as long as everyone is back and healthy.


Is there speculation of a lottery pick next year?

That’s always the speculation with any of these guys who have left and looked at it in their first year or two.  I don’t think anyone can guarantee lottery, but you guys have seen him, he’s certainly skilled.  He will get better and he has been in the weight room.  He’s going to be bigger and stronger.  I thought his confidence at the end of the year was phenomenal.  No guarantees, but he has a shot to be right up there.



Williams: 'College basketball is fun'

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