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Maurice Williams should be in school


June 20
You have to feel a bit for Alabama coach Mark Gottfried.

Maurice Williams
Alabama's Maurice Williams should be aiming for more celebrations in college.
For the fourth straight year, he lost a player early to the NBA draft. None of the four seemed to be great decisions.

First was Schea Cotton, who declared for the draft after just one season at Alabama. Cotton had bounced around before ending up with the Tide, but went undrafted in 2000.

Gerald Wallace, a high-riser, also played just one season at Alabama. Had he returned to school, his stock could have climbed; he was a late first-round choice by the Sacramento Kings in 2001.

Hot Rod Grizzard skipped his senior year and didn't get picked in the first round. He became a basketball vagabond after being a second-round selection by the Washington Wizards in last year's draft. Was that a wise decision? I said it wasn't at the time and I'll say it again.

Will Maurice Williams, the former McDonald's All-America, end up in the first round? We will find out next Thursday. We do know he won't be back with the Tide, and that is sad. He led Alabama in scoring this past year with a respectable 16.4 ppg. and 3.9 apg. He decided to stay in the draft instead of withdrawing his name.

The problem was his shooting. Williams shot under 40 percent from the floor and under 30 percent from 3-point land over the last two seasons. That lack of shooting consistency hurt his stock. If he had returned to school for another season, like Notre Dame's Chris Thomas and St. Joe's Jameer Nelson, I believe his stock would have climbed.

I don't understand why some players try to rush into the pros and give up their college years. Those are the best times to learn, gain valuable experience and playing time.

Next season, Williams could have spent a lot of time improving while playing in the competitive SEC. Instead, he'll probably be riding the pine in the pros. It's just another tough break for Gottfried and the Tide.

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