BLOOMINGTON – Tom Crean might be bringing something extra with him from Marquette.
The 6-4, 200-pound shooting guard from Mobile (Ala.) LeFlore H.S. was released from his Marquette letter of intent when Crean left the Big East school for Bloomington, and he's now giving very serious consideration to Indiana.
"I'm very interested in Indiana right now," Williams said. "Ever since the whole thing happened I've been trying to take all of this in. But my interest in IU right now is very high and we'll see in a couple of days what I think."
Williams said his decision will boil down to two programs – Indiana and Arkansas. The Hoosiers' draw is not only Crean, but the program's tradition as well as the opportunity for immediate playing time. Arkansas, meanwhile, is aided by the fact Coach John Pelphrey has had an eye on Williams for some time.
"Coach Pelphrey used to be the coach of South Alabama and that's in Mobile, so he's been on me for a long time," said Williams, who added he might take a visit to Arkansas later this week. "He's seen me play, and we have a relationship."
That relationship, though, probably isn't as strong as the one Williams has developed with Crean and two of his IU assistants, Tim Buckley and Bennie Seltzer. Williams originally verballed to Marquette two summers ago, due in large part to the impression Crean made on him.
"Coach Crean is a great coach, he has great passion," Williams said. "One thing I really admire about him is he loves to win, and he's a great player developer. That's maybe the biggest reason I'd want to play for Coach Crean."
Williams said he hasn't actually talked with Crean since he took over at IU, but he has talked with both Buckley and Seltzer about the Hoosier program. Williams said he's aware that IU's self-imposed sanctions is limiting the amount of opportunities he'd have to talk to Crean, but that hasn't kept Indiana from quickly emerging as one of top potential destinations for Scout.com's 32nd-ranking shooting guard in the nation.
Williams admits he's just now getting up-to-speed about the Hoosier program since he'd spent the last two years expecting to play in the Big East for the Golden Eagles. But he is aware of the opportunity he'd have to play early, and he's also familiar with the program's tradition of success.
"I'm not very familiar with Indiana, but I know the tradition of Indiana is huge," Williams said. "I had spent two years just with Marquette, Marquette, Marquette, everything about Marquette. So it's a crash course trying to get all these things in about these two schools in one week."
Buckley and Seltzer have tried their best to fill in the gaps with what IU has to offer.
"They talk about playing right away and the tradition of the IU program," Williams said. "They stress this is the top job in the nation, and there's nothing better than being an Indiana basketball player. They say with the alumni, it doesn't matter who you are playing it's always going to be filled, and that's something I'd like to be a part of."
That would be in stark contrast to what he's been used to growing up in Mobile. While he plays on one of the top high school teams in the nation and alongside top 2009 recruit Demarcus Cousins, he said basketball is always going to be a distant second to football in his homestate.
"It is tough, because people see you different," Williams said. "You see people from New York, you can say a kid from New York is a basketball player, a kid from Georgia or Tennessee or Alabama is a football player. So we don't get as much recognition."
Recognition wouldn't be in short supply in Bloomington, considering the passion Indiana fans have for the game of basketball and for the IU program. That's a big draw for Williams, who should be making a decision in the near future.
"I want to be able to come in and make an early impact on a team and on a city of my choice," Williams said. "The tradition of the school is important, and I want to be able to get along with the players and the coaching staff.
"Right now, it's a toss up between Indiana and Arkansas."
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