Williams' eye still on NBA

ATLANTA — Most people think Louis Williams' NBA Draft stock is dropping fast. He knows it.

He also plans on doing something about it. Williams was at Atlanta's Sheraton Downtown Friday night to receive the Naismith Male High School Player of the Year Trophy and said he's still leaning toward going straight to the NBA instead of honoring his signed letter-of-intent to play for Georgia.

"A lot of people don't realize, that's every basketball player's childhood dream," he said. "If that's opportunity is there, why wouldn't I take it?"

Williams, a 6-foot-2 guard out of South Gwinnett High School, said he will have to believe he's a first round draft choice before he'll skip college. Right now, that's in doubt. After he scored 14 points in the McDonald's High School All-American game earlier this month, projections for his professional future got a little cloudier.

According to an ESPN.com report, he struggled mightily in practice to play point guard for the game, the position he'll probably have to play in the NBA due to his size.

"I have the skills to play point guard, but they're not polished enough," Williams said. "At this point, I'm not a point guard, but that's somebody else's job to mold me into a point guard."

After the McDonald's All-American game, one mock draft, updated regularly at NBAdraftnet.com, dropped Williams from a first-round pick to an early second-round pick. The Web site projects he'll be picked No. 35 by the Portland Trail Blazers.

Louis Williams thinks he can change everyone's dropping opinion of him in the next two weeks when he plays in two more prep all-star games. He plays today in Memphis in the Nike Hoop Summit and next Saturday in the Jordan Classic in Madison Square Garden.

"These next couple of games, hopefully they'll make my decision very clear cut," he said.

Williams flew from Memphis, where he lived until moving to Gwinnett County in the fifth grade, to Atlanta on Friday afternoon after practice for the Nike game to attend Friday's ceremony. He planned to fly back to Memphis this morning. Williams earned the Naismith Trophy by averaging 27.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks per game for South Gwinnett this season.

The Naismith Trophy has been given to the Atlanta Tipoff Club's choice of the top prep player since 1987. Previous winners include Dwight Howard, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, all of whom went straight from high school to the NBA. Raymond Felton won the award three years ago but passed on the chance to go straight to the pros and led North Carolina to an NCAA title earlier this month.

Also at Friday's event were men's college player of the year Andrew Bogut of Utah, men's college coach of the year Bruce Weber of Illinois, women's player of the year Seimone Augustus of LSU and women's college coach of the year Pokey Chatman. (In what could be a good sign for Bulldog fans, the VIP reception for Friday's event was held in the hotel's Athens banquet room.)

Williams said he still believes he's a late first-round draft pick based on what he hears from "a select few people in my inner circle who are in constant contact with general managers and head coaches in the NBA." He wouldn't name those people but said they weren't family or friends are were people "who are known throughout the NBA."

Williams has until May 14 to enter his name into the NBA Draft and plans to wait until next month to make a decision. Despite the importance of his next two games, he said he's not going to put too much pressure on himself.

"I'm just going to play my game," he said. "It's got me this far. I'm here receiving the Naismith Award."

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