Cumberland Times-News

Columns

April 28, 2011

Jordan, we hardly knew ye?

In our latest episode of Maryland Fans Walking on Eggshells, Terps Community has until May 8 to learn if Jordan Williams will be a Terrapin for at least one more year, or simply another memory of what could have been, since the sophomore center entered his name in the NBA draft last month.

The good news is Williams did not hire an agent, so he can retain his college eligibility should he change his mind, just as Greivis Vasquez did two years ago when he tested the NBA waters.

The troubling news is, unlike Vasquez, Williams reportedly has not been going to class while he tests these waters, as he’s been out there somewhere honing his game with other NBA prospects. All of which has Terps fans fretting over whether or not he will be academically eligible should he return to Maryland.

The Terrapin Times’ Keith Cavanaugh offered last week that Williams could take incompletes on his spring semester courses and go to summer school as an option to become academically qualified should he opt out of the draft process.

Obviously, the hope for Maryland’s sake is Williams decides to stay in college, because, face it, the Terps could be dreadful without him next year since Dave Neal isn’t walking through that door again.

The hope for Jordan Williams’ sake as well is he decides to stay in college for at least one more year, because, face it, he ain’t ready for the NBA.

You think Chris Wilcox has been in witness protection since leaving Maryland? Look, Wilcox, while far from a star, has put together a pretty good NBA career the past 10 seasons, and has been good enough to earn a lot of that good NBA money, having been a first-round pick.

Could he have earned more by staying at Maryland for one more year? It’s no lock, but possibly, since he would have been the centerpiece of what very well could have been Maryland’s third straight Final Four team. However, given the career he has had and the money he has made, hard feelings for Wilcox have never existed around College Park, for without him, there is no national championship.

If Williams were to leave now, though, he wouldn’t have a fraction of the career Wilcox has had. And, again, the last time most Maryland fans saw Wilcox play was April 1, 2002 against the Indiana Hoosiers.

True, Williams is a strong rebounder, but he has difficulties against bigger players, lacking the back-to-the-basket game he will need in the NBA. From 15 feet out, his shot won’t cut it. In fact, he has no shot from 15 feet out.

Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned the pending NBA lockout, which, by all accounts, will make the NFL lockout look like Prince William and Kate disagreeing over a china pattern.

Williams’ high school coach, Tony Turina, told the Baltimore Sun he hopes his former player sits down before the May 8 deadline for a long talk with somebody else named Williams, saying, “Nobody knows Jordan better than Gary Williams.”

Maryland head coach Gary Williams, who told Wilcox, Joe Smith and Steve Francis to leave Maryland early for the NBA, has been mum on the situation since telling ESPN 980 last month, “In Jordan’s situation, I believe he needs another year ... He had a great sophomore year — in other words the leap he made from his freshman year to his sophomore year was incredible. To make first-team all-ACC, a couple third-team all-Americans is great, and he’s got a great college game. In other words, he’s able to bull his way to the basket a lot of times, he can get to the free-throw line, he did improve his free-throw shooting as the year went on.

“But at the same time, there’s still things to do in terms of a jump shot, in terms of getting better athletically before you hit that next level. Because we all watch the NBA, and you see who’s playing out there. I mean, those guys are just some of the greatest athletes in the world.”

The feeling in College Park and amongst Maryland students I have talked to seems to be Jordan Williams is already gone.

Maryland could be pretty good next year. In fact, with Jordan Williams at center, Maryland could be very good.

But maybe he just doesn’t like college. Or maybe he just truly believes he’s ready for the NBA.

More’s the pity if he does.

More so for him than for Maryland.

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at mburke@times-news.com

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