Deron Williams Declares For NBA Draft

Illinois junior point guard Deron Williams (The Colony, Texas/The Colony H.S.) announced in a press conference this evening that he will forego his senior season and enter the NBA Draft. Williams has signed with an agent and will turn his attention towards pursuing a professional career.

Williams earned consensus second-team All-America honors during the 2004-05 season. He started every game and ranked third on the team in scoring, averaging 12.5 points. He reached double figures in 25 games, with five games of 20 or more points. Williams was at his best during the NCAA Tournament, averaging 14.7 points and 8.3 assists. He was named Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Chicago Regional after scoring 22 points in Illinois' memorable comeback win over Arizona in the Regional Final and 21 vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Sweet 16. Williams had 17 points vs. North Carolina in the national title game and had 16 assists combined vs. UNC and Louisville to earn NCAA Final Four All-Tournament Team honors.

Arguably the nation's most unselfish player, Williams led the Big Ten and ranked 11th in the nation in assists, averaging 6.8 apg, and became the first player in Big Ten history to lead the conference in assists in each of his first three years. He shattered the UI school record for assists in a season with 264 this year, which is also the third-highest total in Big Ten history.

Williams ends his Illini career ranked No. 2 on the school's all-time assists list with 594 assists (seventh in Big Ten history). He ranks 35th on the Illini all-time scoring list with 1,111 career points and ranks eighth on the UI career 3-point field goals list with 163 treys.

Illinois compiled an overall record of 88-16 (.846) during Williams' career, and 39-9 (.813) in Big Ten play. Illinois won two regular season outright Big Ten titles, two Big Ten Tournament titles and participated in the NCAA Tournament all three seasons, advancing to the Second Round, Sweet 16, and National Championship game, respectively.

STATEMENT FROM Deron Williams:

" I am officially announcing that I'm declaring for the NBA Draft. I signed with an agent this past weekend, and my attention is now on pursuing my professional basketball career and preparing for the Draft on June 28. It has been my lifelong dream to play in the NBA. Having looked at my situation and through talks with many people I'm close to, I felt that the timing was right, and that this was an opportunity I could not pass up. There are a lot of people who have impacted my life and career. I would like to thank...

* My family, for all their support through the years.

* Coach Weber, and our assistants, Coach McClain, Coach Webster, Coach Price and Coach Nottingham. They put the ball in my hands and let me run the team, and I appreciate them having confidence in me and helping me improve my game the last two years.

* Coach Self and Coach Gillispie, for introducing me to Fighting Illini basketball and recruiting me to Illinois.

* My teammates, guys like Dee Brown, Luther Head, James Augustine, Roger Powell, Jack Ingram, Brian Cook, Jerrance Howard, and Sean Harrington, and all the younger guys: We had a lot of great times playing here together. We won a lot of games, won some championships, and had an amazing run this year to end my career.

* All the support staff, including Al Martindale, Rod Cardinal, Doctor Kyrouac, Jimmy Price, Jason Holtman, Kent Brown and Derrick Burson.

* Lastly, I want to thank the fans and the Orange Krush, who have been unbelievable in their support of our team and myself. Everywhere we went this year, orange filled the stands, and I believe that Illini fans are absolutely the best in the nation.

Finally, I want to wish the best of luck to my teammates who will return to Illinois. We are a family, and I know they'll continue to be successful due to their hard work, the great coaching, and the wonderful fan support here."

Illini Inquirer Top Stories