Kevin Kinder \

West Virginia Forward Devin Williams Has Strong Reasons to Go Pro

There are a number of different ways to look at early departures by college athletes, and many of them are biased by the perspective of the observer. However, it's tough to argue with the one shared by a analyst as it regards West Virginia forward Devin Williams.

By now, there have been a number of “weigh-ins” on Williams' decision to at least explore the possibility of turning professional this spring. While he has not signed with an agent yet, and apparently indicated to West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins that he was not preparing to do so, there have been enough off-the-record comments about his intent to go pro as to present his decision as all but signed and sealed. It's still very unlikely that Williams will return, but Huggins' comments not only show his care for his players, but also provides him with a path back if he so desires.

Those wanting to see the situation resolved may be impatient at the apparent delay, but there are good reasons, and multiple ones, supporting a lack of a rush to action on that irrevocable step. First, Williams might still be gathering information on and talking with potential representatives. Being cautious in that regard is certainly not a bad move. And he might, somewhere in his thought process, still be holding out the faint possibility of a return if things don't work out in the evaluation process as he hopes.

However that plays out, there's another observation on his decision to consider. This one comes from analyst Brian Snow, who has known Williams since he was 15 years old. While he can't put himself in Williams' shoes, he does offer some perspectives that many others can't.

“First, by coming back, he would not become six feet ten inches or become a great athlete,” said Snow, who has been covering basketball for since 2009. “He's smart enough to know that. Also, he's been through a lot. I mean a lot. His brother was murdered and he had another brother in jail. He has a single mom. They had nothing [while he was growing up], and he's intelligent enough to know he needs to start making money.”

Again, the perspective comes into play here. While some observers are looking at the mega millions a first round NBA pick might command, Snow notes that a more modest (but still very significant) amount might mean more to Williams than to many others.

“His first contract will be the most money they have ever seen,” Snow noted. “Say he doesn't make the NBA, but he gets a Europe contract. Say it's for $100,000. That's still more than he has ever had. It's hard for me, who grew up in the suburbs with plenty, to relate to his situation and understand everything he has gone through. That is very important, and this money would be life-changing.”

Another factor Snow points out is that Williams' earning life as a basketball player is limited, just like that of every player. An extra year of income would not only help right now, but also give him a year's head start on the second contract, which is when “real” money is made.

Snow acknowledges that there is validity to other arguments in favor of staying such as the fact that he could improve some areas of his game with another year in college. However, he still believes that the physical factors he mentioned up front are things that the NBA will continue to look at, and which would override any gains he might make in other areas. There's also his personal and family situation to consider, which rightly are being given even greater weight in the decision process.

“Those years he is able to play physically he can never get back,” Snow said. “He’s not getting bad advice. He knows what situation is.”

Mountaineers Daily Top Stories