Today's Paper News Sports Features Business Opinion LEARNS Guide Newsletters Obits Games Archive Notices Core Values

OPINION | WALLY HALL: Williams taking charge of his future so far

by Wally Hall | June 1, 2022 at 2:58 a.m.

When Jaylin Williams tweeted that he was turning pro and would not be returning to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks, it was not a surprise.

It wasn't even a surprise he did it in a tweet, which has replaced news conferences for many.

According to a couple of NBA coaches, Williams' stock has started to rise the past few weeks.

While some experts are predicting him for the second round, he may slip in late in the first round of the NBA Draft on June 23, just six days before he turns 20 years old.

Now that would be a great present. First-rounders get guaranteed money.

Most likely what NBA coaches are seeing is Williams' potential and upside.

He's 6-10, 240 pounds of muscle and is a fearless athlete.

He's passionate, which would surprise people who watched him play early in his life, when he was taller than everyone and didn't have to work hard.

When he was 16, Bill Ingram, founder of the Arkansas Hawks, moved him up to the 17-and-under team and it was like a light went off.

As a freshman at Arkansas, he started a little tentative, found his groove with the help of Eric Musselman and his staff, and helped the Razorbacks reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

As a sophomore, he was better. By the time SEC play started, he added more offense to his game and became a more complete player.

Again, the Razorbacks made the Elite Eight.

From about early February until the final game of the season against Duke, he was talked about more and more on television, even games when Arkansas wasn't playing.

Mostly it was about the way he gave up his body to take charges, 54 of them, a school record.

Taking charges is about the last thing most players want to do.

There's nothing fun about planting your feet and getting knocked to the floor.

What taking those charges did for Williams was show mental and physical toughness, and to play in the NBA, that's two things you have to have.

And talk about confidence, Williams grew to have an abundance of it during his two seasons under Musselman, who has now had three players in three seasons declare for the NBA with eligibility remaining: Isaiah Joe in 2020 and Moses Moody last year.

Both are on NBA rosters. In fact, Moody's Golden State Warriors will begin play in the NBA Finals this week.

Musselman might have had an idea of what could happen with Williams once he started working out for NBA teams and going to NBA camps.

Musselman runs an NBA type of offense, which probably has a lot to do with why so many guys want to play for him.

This was good when Williams announced he was going to explore his NBA chances.

By the time the dust settled, Musselman had the No. 1 recruiting class in America -- the best in Razorbacks history -- to go with some transfers who are going to contribute immediately.

There will be five new starters this fall.

The biggest problem facing Musselman, and one he will embrace every day of the week, is expanding the playing time from a six- or seven-man rotation to nine or 10.

It won't be hard for him to adjust, he has too much NBA experience.

Williams will be missed.

Any guy who helps you make the Elite Eight would be missed, but as sure as Williams is moving on, so will the Razorbacks.

When Williams announced he was going to explore his future, Musselman and staff went to work, and with 11 new players are at the 13 scholarship limit, all whom are on campus.

Williams will spend June getting drafted, celebrating his birthday and going to a NBA city to start the next chapter of his career.

Print Headline: Williams taking charge of his future so far


Sponsor Content