Maryland big man Jordan Williams is leaving College Park. The sophomore more or less confirmed on his Twitter account this afternoon the reports that he has hired an agent and is going pro, something that has been speculated the past several weeks.
That’s right, order your Bakersfield Jam jerseys now, folks, because Williams is going to the D-League!
Just kidding. Williams is entering the June 23 NBA draft, though I guess a season in the NBA’s Development League isn’t out of the question depending on which team drafts him next month.
“Thank you for all the support...it really means a lot!! It's been a dream to play in the NBA and now I finally have the opportunity!!” he Tweeted around 3 p.m. “I wanna thank #TerpNation for the support over the past 2 years I hope yall continue to follow me on my journey to the top!!”
We all knew this day was coming for Williams, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing for Maryland fans.
Williams averaged 16.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game in his sophomore season, though his game, especially on the offensive end, appears to be a year or two away from being NBA-ready. He is projected as a late first-round pick at best, and he is expected to be a developmental player at the professional level who will likely spend most of his rookie season riding the pine pony in a swishy track suit.
Of course, a year ago, we heard the same things about former Terps guard Greivis Vasquez, who has been contributing off the bench for the Grizzlies during their run to the second round of the playoffs. And as we saw with Spurs power forward DeJuan Blair, it’s all about a player landing in the right spot.
That’s why it’s way too early to say that Williams is going to be a bust in the pros.
But some heartbroken fans are already rooting for Williams to fail. Even as the Terps stumbled down the stretch this spring and somehow failed to qualify for either the NCAA tournament or the NIT, there was hope that Williams, dynamic freshman point guard Terrell Stoglin and a recruiting class highlighted by Nick Faust would return the Terps to the top of the ACC in 2011-12. Now there is anger and frustration from the realization that the Terps probably aren’t going to be any good without Williams next season.
Imagine how Gary Williams feels.
His double-double machine has gone pro after two years on campus -- that makes you appreciate Greivis a little bit more, doesn’t it? -- and there is now a massive hole in the middle of his lineup (he has been scrambling to sign another big man recently, so I guess he saw this announcement coming). Williams' seat was already heating up after the Terps missed the NCAA tournament for a fourth time in seven years. And if the Terps fall short again in 2011-12, the temperature will get ratcheted up even more.
Meanwhile, Jordan Williams will probably be sitting on a cushy folding chair somewhere in a random NBA stadium waiting for his mop-up duty (and that’s assuming there will be a NBA season in 2011-12).
We’ll see if Williams makes the most of it like Vasquez has been doing down in Memphis.