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UConn’s Marcus Williams Signs with Memphis

I’m wondering if this is Marcus’ last best chance.

At this point, more infamous than famous, according Marcus will sign with the Memphis Grizzlies….

within the next few days. The point guard will get a one-year deal for the NBA minimum of $855,189.

He is going go a situation where he will at least have some chance to play. Memphis’ starting point guard is Mike Conley. The back up is Marko Jaric, who is really more of a combo guard, and has had trouble getting playing time at either guard position. That might mean a real opportunity for Williams.

Denver had also shown interest, but picked up Ty Lawson in a trade on draft night.

Williams was a freshman on the National Champion Huskies team of 2004.  At one time compared in both body build and game to uber guard Deron Williams of Utah, Marcus has yet to come close to fulfilling his potential.

Like another former Husky b-baller, Scott Burrell,  6′ 3″ lefty Marcus Darell Williams could have played baseball. He was a pitcher in high school and was clocked throwing the ball at 85 miles. He’s thrown and been thrown a few curve balls since then.

Strong summer league with the Grizzlies.….

Williams averaged 13.4 points and 8.2 assists in Las Vegas, with one executive calling him the surprise player of the league. In his first game, Williams set a summer-league record with 17 assists in one game against the Thunder.

While his shooting pct. ended up at just 33%, he went to the foul line 20 times in one game, making 16 and finishing with 22 points. He has offensive skills.

2009 MEM 5 5 29.0 .333 .083 .789 0.4 4.2 4.6 8.2 0.2 0.4 2.20 1.00 13.4
Total 5 5 29.0 .333 .083 .789 0.4 4.2 4.6 8.2 0.2 0.4 2.20 1.00 13.4
Jul 19 @ SAS W 75-76 32 2-10 0-4 7-8 0 4 4 5 1 0 6 1 11
Jul 18 @ PHX W 60-97 25 5-11 0-0 1-3 1 5 6 9 0 0 1 0 11
Jul 16 vs. LAC W 85-68 29 3-9 0-3 16-20 0 4 4 5 0 0 2 2 22
Jul 14 vs. NYK W 90-86 30 5-15 0-2 6-7 0 5 5 5 0 1 1 0 16
Jul 12 vs. OKC W 86-57 29 3-9 1-3 0-0 1 3 4 17 0 1 1 2 7

And as we know, summer league tells you little about performance against established NBA players. But you must dominate there first, to get a chance at the real thing.

After a stellar UConn career, but one filled with controversy, Williams was drafted #22 by the New Jersey Nets in 2006. He was one of 5 Huskies drafted that year, 4 in the first round.

UConn Career

Not overly athletic, Williams established himself as a leader and a fine offensive player in college. I was in Gampel Pavilion when a very young and much skinnier Williams played his second college game as a freshman. It was against Kirk Snyder’s Nevada team. Kevinn Pinkney (a Celtic for a few games) was on that team.

Marcus came in for Taliek Brown (who tried out for the Celtics)and played a fine floor game for his second college game ever. At one point, Williams energized the team and the crowd. He saw what it meant to UConn fans when you play well, as to his surprise, they started chanting his name. I’ve watched the ups and downs of his career ever since.

He was suspended for part of his freshman season for poor grades and was removed from the team for several months as a junior with 2009 draft pick  A.J. Price (Indiana – second round) for trying to sell stolen computers.

Troubles aside, Williams established himself as a tough, heady player. He recorded UConn’s first ever triple double in a Big East game (6th UConn triple dub overall), and left with the highest assist average in UConn  history at 7.3.  He also had the single game UConn assist record with 16. His output increased when you needed it to, as he averaged 20 points and 8.8 assists in NCAA Tournament play overall.

NBA Travails

After being drafted by New Jersey he was understudy to Jason Kidd for two years.

He turns the ball over too much and is not a very good defender, and is especially exposed against quicker guards. His shooting pct. is a lowly 38.6%, though he was able to make 38% of his three point shots in in his second year.  He played in 79 games in his rookie year but was injured part of his sophomore season and played only 53 games.

He is an excellent transition passer, and has a solid body type for his position. Staying in shape has been an issue in the past.

He shoots 80% from the line for his career and averages 6 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists in 15 plus minutes.

I believe that he can run an NBA offense, at least as a back up. He is still learning how to be effective in half court sets. His shooting pct can go up. His defensive short comings, conditioning, and his need to watch his TO rate will make or break his career.

Golden State Disappearance

After being acquired by Golden State from the New Jersey Nets (for a conditional first rounder) on July 22 2008, he immediately landed in coach Don Nelson’s dog house and never got out.  Conditioning and attitude were said to be the reasons. Playing in just 9 games, he was released on March 10, 2009.

Now, we know that Don Nelson is a funny bird, especially with young players. Did Marcus deserve the treatment he got? It seemed harsh to me. But if he wasn’t coming to camp ready to go, it is somewhat understandable.

He signed with the Quebradillas Pirates of the Puerto Rican League shortly after. He averaged 15 points, 9.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds with them in a half a season.

I’m guessing that Marcus is fighting for his NBA life, therefore in pretty good physical shape this time.

Coach Lionel Hollins is the opposite of Don Nelson, is an encourager and a former point guard. This may be Marcus’ best last chance to break through and establish himself as an NBA player. He is still young enough. He will be 24 in December.

Otherwise…hello Quebradillas…or even Europe. If he gets playing time, he will have enough shooters in OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, and Zach Randolph to pass to.

This looks to be as good an opportunity as he will get.

The record says that you play well under pressure. Well, the pressure is on a career…. that needs something good to happen this season.

Oh yeah, the other 4 UConn players drafted that year?

New team mate Rudy Gay (#8), Hilton Armstrong (#12), Josh Boone (#23) and Denham Brown (#40 Seattle).

And this breaking news just in…

Glen Davis is still unsigned…..

And Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

Thomas Halzack

2 Responses

  1. halzack says:

    lol. 10% would do just fine.

    Yep, lots of UConn boys hoopin’ it up.

    Most of them stay out of trouble, at least the ones who make it the big league.


  2. Jack Jemsek says:


    tT on the UConn Watch! By my count, you have to have your eyes focused on Detroit first with Hamilton, Gordon and Villeneuve. Now you also have New Orleans with Okafor and Armstrong, and the Grizz with Gay and Williams. Are you torn?

    BTW – when are you getting that long-awaited Ray Allen exclusive piece out?

    And wouldn’t you like to have just 10% of that NBA vet minimum as a tidy annual salary? Just askin’

    Yours truly,