Williams selects Huskies

Jamaal Williams, a 6-6, 218-pound forward from Corona, California, by way of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the latest hoopster to call Seattle his new home. Williams was officially granted his release from the University of New Mexico in March, and after an unofficial visit to the Emerald City this past weekend is all set to become a Washington Husky.

"I'm coming to Washington," Williams said Tuesday night from Albuquerque. "All I have to do is be accepted by the school, but that shouldn't be a problem. I have a 3.0 GPA over the last two years at New Mexico. I expect to be up in Seattle for their summer school session June 23rd."

Jamaal's decision to leave New Mexico wasn't an unexpected one, even though he averaged 12 points and six rebounds for the Lobos last year. In fact he had previously thought of leaving after his first year as a Lobo. "Well, I was going to leave last year, but I decided to stay," he said. "Both Cal and Washington were interested in me, but Coach (Lorenzo) Romar actually told me I should stay. He's friends with Coach (Ritchie) McKay and he told me I should stick it out. But it just didn't work out.

"We just didn't get along on the floor. Things just didn't go right. We had different expectations."

When his release became official in March of this year, Romar and the Huskies were on top of things. "Coach Romar was recruiting me at Saint Louis, and when he knew I had been released he told me that he had a scholarship waiting for me," Jamaal said. "I told him I would take a visit to Washington.

"I visited this past weekend and I really got along with the players. They accepted me. And I even played against some of them in high school. I really like the city and campus. And since I already knew the coaching staff so well, it was a great fit."

Williams is originally from Corona, California, where he attended Centennial HS and was a top-100 recruit nationally. He signed with former Lobos head coach Fran Fraschilla but stayed around when McKay was hired last season.

In high school, Jamaal was Player of the Year for Riverside County, Mountain View League and CIF Division I-A, California All-State first team and also selected to Coca-Cola All-American game in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was offered by Saint Louis, Tulsa, Pepperdine and New Mexico. "I enjoyed my trip to New Mexico and it was the closest school I liked at the time," he said. "I didn't really like Pepperdine then. And it was close but not too far away."

Fraschilla had this to say to the Albuquerque Tribune when Williams signed with the Lobos in 2001.

"Jamaal Williams to me is one of the top 50 to 75 high school players in the country. He is relentless, particularly offensively, and gives us good inside- out versatility. He always been a natural scorer. He plays the game with passion and energy. Jamaal was one of our key targets that we started to recruit as a junior. We don't really care about (his) position; Jamaal is going to be a guy who does everything. He can do everything. He can drive by bigger people and is strong enough to post up anybody his size. He's not as good, but he's a lot like Ron Artest. We'll let him play to his strengths."

With a need for help on the inside, it appears like Jamaal will be a 4, but Romar has not defined anything yet. "Coach Romar said that he just wants me to come in as a player, a guy that can score, rebound and help the team win games," Williams said. "He just wants me to go out there and play my game. He sees me as a matchup problem. I can post up smaller players, and if I'm against bigger guys I can take them outside.

"And I think he can push me to be the best I can be. He can add things to my game, build my perimeter game so that it's better than it is now."

Jamaal will sit out the 2003-04 season per transfer rules and be a RS Junior with two years of eligibility left.

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