Williams signs with agent - won't play at Georgia

ATHENS – No matter what happens tonight in the NBA Draft, it looks like Louis Williams won't be playing basketball for the University of Georgia.

The former South Gwinnett High School star and Bulldog signee has forfeited his collegiate eligibility by signing a contract with Bill Duffy and Associates Sports Management, a BDA representative said Monday.

"He's going to be with agent Merle Scott," said Brittany Young, a marketing operations assistant at BDA. "Merle will be his personal agent."

Scott, a former South Carolina State basketball player and a 1982 draft pick by the New York Knicks, did not return a phone message to call The Telegraph. Louis Williams signed with Duffy's agency last week, Young said. NBA players Steve Nash, Tayshaun Prince, Carmelo Anthony, Juan Dixon and Chris Duhon are among BDA's clients, according to the company's Web site.

Williams -- who averaged 29 points, six rebounds and five assists a game as a senior -- announced his intention to turn pro in early May but said he would consider playing at Georgia if he was unhappy with his projected draft position. If he had not signed with an agent, he would have had 30 days after tonight's draft to decide whether to sign a pro contract or head to college.

College underclassmen who leave early for the NBA must pull their names out of the draft a week ahead to retain their eligibility, but high school players can go through the draft process and maintain their collegiate eligibility as long as they don't sign with an agent or a pro team. That allows prep players who are unhappy with where they are selected a chance to go to college and improve their stock.

The buzz the day before the draft suggested Williams won't be happy by the time his name is called tonight. The draft begins at 7:30 p.m. in Madison Square Garden and will be broadcast by ESPN.

Williams, who could not be reached for comment Monday, originally said he would play for the Bulldogs next year unless he was confident he would be a first-round pick, but that appears very unlikely.

"I think the big question mark with is, where does he play?" said Chris Monter of Monter Draft News. "He didn't have particularly great workouts leading up to the Chicago pre-draft camp and then he didn't play in Chicago for some reason. By playing in Chicago, he could have at least tried to prove he can play point guard."

Monter is predicting Williams will be taken by his hometown Atlanta Hawks but not with the Hawks' pick at No. 2 overall or even No. 31 overall. He thinks Williams will be taken No. 59, next-to-last in this year's draft.

Likewise, Williams is nowhere to be found in the first round of mock drafts published this week by ESPN.com, Dime Magazine, CNNSI.com or three independent analysts with CBSSportsline.com. NBAdraft.net predicts Williams will be selected with the 22nd pick of the second round, No. 52 overall, by the Denver Nuggets.

If Williams is picked in the second round, his contract wont' be guaranteed and he will have to compete for a spot on that team's roster. Only 15 of last year's 30 second-round picks made an NBA team and just 15 of the 29 second round picks from the 2002 draft have ever played a minute in the league, Monter said.

If Williams is picked in the second round and makes the team, he'll then be guaranteed at least the NBA rookie minimum of $366,931. The NBA's new collective bargaining agreement, which takes effect on July 1, would allow an NBA team to draft Williams and then place him the National Basketball Developmental League until he is considered ready for NBA.

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