USA Basketball Managing Director and former Illini Jerry Colangelo announced Monday the 12-member team that will compete in Beijing, China, Aug. 8-24. With the selection, Williams becomes the first-ever Fighting Illini to participate with USA Basketball in the Olympics.
"We are thrilled for Deron; this is a tremendous honor," Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said. "He began participating with USA Basketball while he was here and has been working his way up the ladder to get to this point. I know it has been one of his long-term goals to make the U.S. Olympic Team and help try and lead his country to a gold medal. He has the desire and ambition, and that is just as important in international competition as talent, to have a makeup of guys who are willing to give their time and effort, who want to be there and most importantly want to win. I know that Illini fans will now watch the Olympics with even more interest. It is a great source of pride to have one of our own competing on the world's biggest stage."
Now in his second year with the Men's Senior National Team, Williams' tenure began last summer when he helped the United States to a gold medal at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship, the event that qualified the U.S. for the 2008 Olympics. His experience with USA Basketball began prior to his freshman year at Illinois when he played on the USA Under-18 team that competed in the FIBA Americas Championship. It continued with the USA Under-19 squad that competed in the FIBA World Championship prior to his sophomore season with the Illini.
Williams has had a successful start to his professional career since leaving the UI campus. He averaged 18.8 points and 10.5 assists (third in NBA) last season as a third-year pro, earning second-team All-NBA honors. Williams averaged 16.2 points and was second in the NBA with 9.3 assists per game while helping lead the Jazz to the 2007 Western Conference Finals. The highest-drafted player in Illinois history at No. 3 overall, he began his tenure with the Jazz as a first-team NBA All-Rookie selection in 2006.
In his final campaign with the Orange and Blue in 2005, Williams earned consensus second-team All-America honors while leading the Illini to a national runner-up finish, Big Ten regular season and tournament titles, and final record of 37-2. He was third on the team in scoring, averaging 12.5 points, and led the Big Ten and ranked 11th in the nation in assists, averaging 6.8 apg. He shattered the UI school record for assists in a season with 264, which also ranked as the third-highest total in Big Ten history. 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 and earned NCAA Final Four All-Tournament Team honors.
Williams remains 36th on the Illini all-time scoring list with 1,111 career points and No. 3 on the school's career assists list with 594 assists.
For more information on Williams and the USA Basketball 2008 Men's Senior National Team, visit www.usabasketball.com