UK-UNC decision weighing on prospect Williams

jtipton@herald-leader.comJune 15, 2012 

Troy Williams

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Few prospects at the Top 100 Camp here probably have as good a connection to recruiting as Troy Williams or, perhaps, a greater need to trash such information and simply play basketball.

Williams, the nephew of longtime youth basketball guru Boo Williams, may soon face the decision to pick Kentucky over North Carolina (or, of course, North Carolina over Kentucky). That's cutting the bologna pretty thin, so to speak.

"Kentucky and North Carolina are like up here," Williams said as he raised his right hand to shoulder height, "and everybody else is down here."

Williams put his left hand at about his waist. Other schools include South Carolina, where he intends to soon make an unofficial visit, Florida, Louisville, Alabama and Georgetown.

"But those two are even," he added, meaning UK and UNC.

Williams, a 6-foot-7 wing from Hampton, Va., intended to resolve the UK-or-UNC question at the beginning of May.

"I was going to commit," he said. He just couldn't.

"I wasn't too sure about myself," he said. "I thought I felt comfortable. That's when I woke up and I was 50/50 about it."

Williams was going to commit to Kentucky. "I was leaning toward which coach I got along better with," he said. "It was Coach Cal (John Calipari)."

But Williams couldn't bring himself to commit.

So Williams called his uncle, who had long guided prospects from Virginia and surrounding states.

Boo Williams assured his nephew there was no problem with putting off a decision.

"He was, 'It's all right, nobody's going to fight you on it,'" Williams said of his uncle's advice. "There's no rush."

A top-50 national prospect, Williams remains 50/50 on Kentucky and North Carolina.

Dave Telep, a senior recruiting analyst for ESPN, spoke with a concerned tone as he assessed Williams on Friday.

"Sometimes the difficulty of trying to process that information can affect your play," Telep said.

Recruiting hype can distract a player to the point he begins thinking too much. In Telep's word, a player can go into a "spiral." The player so highly regarded begins to fade away.

"He's trying so hard," Telep said. "You look at him and just see the pressure. You're watching him. You're not really evaluating him. He's in a (pause) funk. I really believe a lot of it is the pressure of recruiting."

To Telep's eye, Williams has gone away from what he does best. The player is taking too many jump shots.

"He has to go back to hanging his hat on tough defense, running the floor," Telep said. "Getting his confidence back."

Ironically, Williams, who averaged 8.3 points in his first three games here, cited the reliance on transition basketball as an appealing facet of basketball at Kentucky and North Carolina.

"Playing style," he said. "They both get out and play."

Williams said much the same thing as the reason he intends to visit South Carolina. "They like to get up and down," he said. "I like to get up and down."

Because of his uncle, Williams repeatedly spoke of Louisville Coach Rick Pitino as a basketball wise man.

"I think it's just a wisdom thing," he said of his uncle's friendship with Pitino. Of the U of L coach, he said, "He's been around the game a long time. In the NBA, too. It seems he has a lot more wisdom on it and (the ability) to develop anyone into what they want to be."

Williams all but said he's searching for wisdom. His college choice, should it boil down to Kentucky or North Carolina, will depend on how well he interacts with the coach, he said.

Meanwhile, observers like Telep wonder if players like Williams can play their way out of a UK-or-UNC decision. Programs like Kentucky and North Carolina have options.

"He's a strong athlete and a good finishing player," Telep said of Williams. "Troy's just struggling to find his game."

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com

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