Why Williams is the right guy

Too often in recruiting fans pay too much attention to rankings. Sure it is fun to try and build a class of top ranked players, but it is not always in the best interest of a program to stockpile as many top-20 prospects as possible. Many fans were upset that the Wildcats had to settle on taking a commitment from Marcus Williams, but I for one think he's as good, if not a better fit for the program.

Arizona made no secret that they wanted one of the three top-10 wings they were recruiting, but in the end they wound up with a player who I think is going to do more good for the program. There is no doubt that Martell Webster, C.J. Miles and Julian Wright are talented players. Currently they have more talent than Williams, but in the long term Williams will be better for the program than any of the so-called "big three".

Odds are that Williams will spend more time in college than Wright, Webster and Miles will all together. Those three will probably be tempted to test the pro waters as early as next spring, while Williams looks to be at least a three-year player. No disrespect to Williams, he's got a load of talent, but he just isn't as far along as the other three.

Had Arizona signed Martell Webster, they would have had to sweat out the NBA Draft next spring. Webster has claimed that college is the way he is leaning, but he has made no secret that the NBA is his eventual goal. Wright dances around the subject, but recently stated that he will do what's best for him and that if he'd be a lottery pick he'd have to at least consider making the leap.

Williams has skills, but he doesn't do any one thing great. He does a lot of thins well. He's been described as "jack-of-all-trades" by one college coach and it is an apt description. Although he can do many things well, there is not one skill that bowls you over. He doesn't rebound like Wright, he doesn't have Webster's strength, but he can play.

He has enough skills that Lute Olson and his assistants should be able to mold him into one terrific player. He's the ideal Olson wing, long, athletic and smart. He plays hard on both ends of the court and is very coachable. When the current players told him about how hard they work in practice, Williams did not shy away he committed. He knows that he can get better and desires a place that can bring out the best in him.

Some fans were disappointed in Williams. TheInsiders rank him as the nation's 32nd ranked player. Other services have him as high as 18th. He may not have the glamour of a top-10 player, but he has the chops to be pretty good, and pretty good right away. We talk about how good he will be by the time he leaves, but he is good enough to play from day one. He could walk into a situation where he contends for a starting job right away.

If you had to compare Williams to one of the "big three" he most resembles Miles. I saw both players over the summer and they do a lot of the same things. In fact, Williams was the more consistent performer of the two. Miles had some games where he was utterly dominant and could not be stopped, but he had other games where he failed to get off more than two or three shots. Williams never had the monster performances, but he was always a factor in every game we saw.

Another thing that can't be discounted is Williams' personality. He impressed Olson with his thoughtful questions on both his in-home and official visits. He is a very smart, bright kid and that seemed to win him points. To make things even better is that the players fell in love with him. They seemed to genuinely like Williams and told the staff that. Any fears that they were making a mistake by not waiting for Webster were soon erased on the visit with the team's seal of approval.

Let's not forget that Williams wanted to be a Wildcat. Rodney Tention had been recruiting him since the ninth grade. Despite the fact that the Wildcats went hard after the "big three", Williams waited to see if the Cats truly wanted him as much as he wanted them. Once the Wildcats showed him the attention he wanted, he was quick to make a commitment. The Cats need more players who want to be in Tucson.

Williams is a good character guy who can fit in with a wide variety of players. He's the type of player the Cats lacked last year. He can fill it up, but is also a great passer who doesn't have to be the primary scorer to remain happy.

Arizona fans sometimes get too wrapped up in rankings and post season awards. After all Hassan Adams, Mustafa Shakur and Jawann McClellan all played in the McDonald's All-American game. Fans forget that Salim Stoudamire and Channing Frye, arguably this team's best players, barely cracked the top-100. Olson has had success with players who were not as highly rated.

The funny thing is that we talk about Williams as if he isn't a well-regarded player. Almost every recruiting service has him listed in the top-40. He's not too far off from where McClellan, last year's highest rated Wildcat recruit, was. Williams can play. A great senior season could propel him into a top-25 rating. He averaged over 28 points a game in one of the tougher leagues in the west. Seattle has a host of D-I prospects and Williams has played as well as any of them. He is not as glamorous as some of the other top Wildcat recruits, but glamour does not win basketball games.

Williams and Onobun give the Wildcats a solid start to a recruiting class. Both are intelligent, talented, versatile players. They are guys who will play a number of seasons and will only get better and better. This class may not be the highest rated in Wildcat history, but with Williams and Onobun it may be as solid as they come.

Marcus Williams profile


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