No one likes to be That Guy. You know, the guy who finds it necessary to tell a college-aged kid that he isn't ready to pursue his professional dreams, that he needs to put off the tantalizing close realization of said dreams and return to school for another season.
In the case of Maryland's Jordan Williams, though, it's true. Williams is a very, very good college basketball player, and it's true that he's only scratching the surface of his ability even as he puts up double-doubles on a nightly basis. But Williams still has miles to go to translate his brand of undersized, strength-based low-post scoring and rebounding into something that can work on the NBA level. He still has wrinkles and nuances to add. He still needs a reliable jump shot. He still ... well, you get the idea.
Naturally, Maryland fans are hoping against hope that their effective big man will realize as much before it's too late. Williams has declared for the NBA draft but still has until May 8 -- otherwise known as Sunday -- to withdraw his name and return to school. Will he do so? Or is he locked in to the draft despite his likely status as a second-round pick?
We'll find out for sure on Sunday. But according to former Maryland swingman Cliff Tucker -- who is now a wide receiver on Maryland's football team -- it's not looking good. From the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Barker:
Former Maryland basketball player Cliff Tucker said -- and he's not the first -- that he won't be surprised if center Jordan Williams doesn't return to the Terps next season.
"It seems like he’s ready to get out of here," Tucker told me Saturday when I asked about Williams. [...] I asked Tucker if Williams had attended the recent Maryland [basketball] banquet, and he replied no.
Now, that might mean a lot. It might mean nothing. Williams has been working out in Las Vegas in preparation for the draft, and he only has a few weeks to figure out whether he should stay in and hire an agent or not, so he might have simply seen the Maryland basketball banquet as a poor allocation of his time. Fair enough.
But if Tucker's intuition is right, not only will Williams be making a very bold and arguably premature decision, he'll also cost the Terrapins their best player, one who has been and would continue to be the centerpiece of coach Gary Williams's efforts to restore the program to the heights it reached in the early aughts. Without him, an already so-so Terrapins team will have to fill a massive gap in their frontcourt, one that could set Williams' project back by at least a year, if not longer.
So, yes: Big decision coming from Williams this week. Maryland fans, you may begin biting your fingernails. (As if you weren't already.)