|Team: NON-NBA College Team: UNICS|
H: 6' 8"|
W: 230 lbs
(26 Years Old)
|RSCI: 85||Agent: Misko Raznatovic ||
High School: Life Center Academy
Hometown: Starkville, MS
Drafted: Pick 48 in 2010 by Heat
Best Case: Ronald Dupree
Worst Case: Linton Johnson
At this time two years ago, Latavious Williams would have been suiting up for a high school game. After being selected in the second round of the NBA Draft last year and in his second season with the Tulsa 66ers, the 22 year-old power forward continues to make strides. Coming on strong late last season while learning on the job, Williams has gone from an unseasoned high-school prospect to one of the most efficient role-players in the D-League, making many of the strides we mentioned in our feature on him last spring.
Much of Williams' success has to do with the fact that he's stuck to what he does well. A physical specimen with his excellent strength, long arms and solid athleticism, Williams has added some weight to his frame, only adding to his ability to clean the glass at a high rate. Still becoming more polished on both ends of the floor, Williams has continued to pull down rebounds at an exceptionally high rate, ranking amongst the most prolific per-40 rebounders in the NBADL for the second straight year.
Offensively, Williams has shown marked improvement, looking significantly more under control and clearly understanding his role much more thoroughly. He's converting 65.8% of his field goals this season, good for the top spot in the NBADL and up from just 52.8% last year. An excellent finisher thanks to his length and leaping ability, Williams gets most of his touches in catch and finish situations. Though he's become more adept at converting shots around the rim, he'll need to become more versatile offensively by developing a post repertoire and midrange jump shot to take the next step offensively.
On the other side of the ball, Williams has continued to grow as well. Depending on which of Oklahoma City's young 7-footers is assigned to the 66ers, Williams has had opportunities to defend both power forwards and centers. Showing solid lateral quickness in defending the perimeter, Williams has the capacity to effectively defend stretch-fours and face-up scorers alike at this level. He still needs to add lower body strength to improve his ability to fight for position on the block, and has a lot to learn in terms of fundamentals, but the tools are there for him to be a solid NBA defender if he continues to improve.
Considering his age, Williams still has plenty of time to refine his game, and he's already made some clear strides that leave room for optimism. He has the makings of a fine role-player, but his ability to get stronger, improve his fundamentals defensively, and become a more versatile player offensively will dictate his potential at the NBA level.
24 games into the D-League season, we’ve likely reached the point where it’s safe to begin drawing conclusions about Latavious Williams’ rookie season of professional basketball, and what that might mean for his NBA draft stock this spring.
The name on this list most likely to garner national interest is that of Latavious Williams. To refresh your memory, Williams was the highly regarded power forward prep school recruit who committed to the University of Memphis, but decided to renege on the decision based on the expert advice of those around him.
“"It was a difficult decision," Williams said in a press release. "But after consulting with a number of people, and taking my family situation into consideration, playing overseas is the best move for me."
"It will not be an easy transition, but I have surrounded myself with a core of very competent people who I trust and who have my best interests at heart, so I am confident that things will work out very well."
Williams’ “mentor/advisor” Trey Godfrey, who he knows thanks to his AAU ties, told Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports back in July that the decision was purely a financial one.
"He made the decision when taking into account his family situation," said Godfrey. "He wants to put himself in a situation where he can help out and he saw this as a good opportunity."
Goodman also quoted Godfrey discussing his belief that Williams will be able to garner a contract in the “six-figure range”, and was mentioned having “a lot of interest from Europe and the Far East.”
Fast-forward three months, and Williams finds himself in the D-League draft pool, holding onto a B-level non-guaranteed contract for $19,000. Surely this isn’t the way he expected things to turn out?
The cold harsh reality is that European basketball teams are not all that interested in players of Williams’ caliber: a raw, unproven athlete without a defined position and plenty of off-court red flags. Being steered through the process with a rookie agent like Godfrey surely didn’t help.
The good news is that this is anything but the end of the road for Williams, even though he has no choice but to become automatically-eligible for the draft this upcoming June. He will be scouted extensively by all 30 NBA teams this season, and should receive plenty of opportunities to play and improve all year long. The level of competition he’ll be facing on a game by game basis going up against seasoned pros is surely higher than what he would have seen at the college level. Playing in the D-League could be a humbling experience for him as well, and could force him to mature rapidly.
This will surely be one of the most interesting story lines to follow in the 2009-2010 D-League season.