Shooting Yourself in the Foot, by Sean Williams

Shooting Yourself in the Foot, by Sean Williams
Jan 19, 2007, 02:09 am
ESPN’s Andy Katz brought some not-so-shocking news yesterday regarding Sean Williams being permanently dismissed from Boston College for “unspecified violations,” together with teammate Akida McLain. A couple of quick phone calls to sources in the Boston area confirmed the initial suspicions that we’re reportedly again dealing with marijuana related issues, specifically failing a drug test once again, according to the sources.

Williams has received numerous opportunities to get his act together since arriving on college, and has seemingly burned every one he’s received. All year we’ve been hearing that he’s been hanging by the thinnest of threads academically, and that numerous strings had to be pulled by Boston College coach Al Skinner amongst the University’s administration to keep him eligible. The higher ups at BC preferred not to have him around, but decided to give Skinner some leeway to keep his second most important player (after Jared Dudley) around. Instead of rewarding the people who believed in him (and conveniently, needed him) most, Williams betrayed their faith and was consequently unequivocally shown the door after refusing to change his ways.


He won’t be welcome back at BC anymore, and basically has two options left at this point. One would be to transfer to another school in the fall, redshirt next season, and wait another year before he’s able to play out his last semester of eligibility. Should he pick that option, it would mean he’s currently two and a half years away from entering the draft. It’s hard enough to find a college coach willing to take on a player for just one semester, let alone someone with his reputation of being unable to stay out of trouble, as talented as he might be.

The other option he has is to enter the draft this coming June, and in the meantime prepare himself either through the D-League or with a personal trainer, likely John Lucas, who he has worked with him closely in the past and is considered a big reason for the massive improvement Williams has shown this year on both ends of the floor.

Either way, things aren’t looking bright for the nation’s leading shot-blocker. Even before this latest dismissal, certain NBA scouts we’ve spoken to over the past few months were lukewarm on the possibility of recommending drafting him in the first round. Most were enamored with his considerable physical tools and upside, but all cited their disbelief in him actually being able to realize that potential anytime in the near future. He was beginning to make people forget his troubled past more and more as his performances continued to exceed all expectations, and we certainly believed that he would make a team drafting in the teens fall in love with his upside once private workouts kicked off, but question marks would always linger about whether he’s going to eventually flame out a la Keon Clark or Eddie Griffin once he gets his first NBA contract.

Thankfully for NBA decision makers, Williams made things very easy on them by himself with his latest mishap. We had him projected as a top 20 pick going into today, but as of right now with the information we have in front of us, it would be difficult to see him cracking the first round, unless a team decides to ignore the potential negative PR that is bound to come with gambling on him. NBA teams have begun to shy away from taking headcase types with checkered pasts over the last few years (see Banks, Sean), and they haven’t exactly been burned or proven wrong. From what NBA types have been telling us, it’s their ownership in particular who have taken a hard stance against adding players who are known to be unable to stay out of trouble.


Reading the report of Williams’ suspension at Sioux Falls Arena and watching the news spread like wildfire amongst scouts was quite interesting. Many of the scouts and executives sitting in our immediate area were scheduled to travel from Sioux Falls to the upcoming Clemson-Boston College game to watch Williams match up with James Mays, and immediately began comparing notes on whether they had seen him enough to have a good handle on his NBA potential. The answer to that question for the most part was no, and some even mentioned frontloading Boston College’s ACC schedule on their travel itinerary specifically because they were worried about something like this happening.

The next topic was what exactly Williams should do now. Some thought the D-League would be a good option for him, maybe playing in Austin close to his hometown of Houston. Others wondered whether he’d even be able to handle playing in a minor league system, or whether the D-League would even accept him, since he’s shown little to no ability or willpower to follow minimal rules even when he knew that millions of dollars were at stake for him. There’s really no simple answer to all these questions. The name Sean Banks came up as he was sat no more than 20 feet away in a very loud and elaborate jacket yapping off to a fellow LA D-Fenders teammate. Banks went through different kinds of issues playing for Memphis but was similarly dismissed from the team, only to go undrafted despite being projected as a potential first round pick following an outstanding freshman season. He’s not quite as tall, athletic or naturally talented as Williams, but the comparisons between the two are certainly there.

This is the point in the article where you usually draw a conclusion. Unfortunately, it will be 5 months at the earliest and likely 3-4 years before there will really be any to come to. Williams is a freakish athlete with seemingly unlimited upside thanks to his size, frame, length, athleticism, and ability to absolutely change the game with his shot-blocking presence in the paint. In a league where players such as Patrick O’Bryant and Saer Sene get drafted 9th and 10th last year for example or Keon Clark and Steven Hunter can rocket their way up boards into the 13th and 15th spots of the 1998 and 2001 drafts respectively on the strength of a couple of outstanding workouts, Sean Williams looked like a lock for the first round of this year’s draft at the very least. None had the kind of rap sheet that Williams is currently sporting, though, and their respective draft classes were both considerably weaker in all-around depth and particularly in the sheer quantity of quality big men. What’s even more worrisome is that the people we’ve spoken to who have worked closest with him refuse to put their personal reputation on the line by vouching for his character.

Thankfully for Williams, though, his career is anything but over. He will get every opportunity in the world to redeem himself and make some NBA team look very very smart for deciding to roll the dice on him, wherever he might get drafted. If he decides to turn over a new leaf and take the opportunity he’s granted with two hands, he’ll be able to make up the money he lost almost as quickly as he gets off the floor for another one of his trademark blocks. It’s up to him to make the most of his situation now.

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