Demon Deacons' leading scorer withdraws from draft

Wake Forest junior forward and leading scorer Eric Williams will return for his senior season, a spokesperson from the university told ESPN.com on Sunday night.

Dean Buchan confirmed that Williams told Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser Sunday that he would withdraw from the NBA draft.

Williams was in Chicago this past week for the predraft camp. He had moments when he performed well, like going 8-for-12 and scoring 18 points and grabbing six boards, and others when he was rather ordinary in going 1-for-5 for six points and seven boards.

Williams told ESPN.com earlier in the week in Chicago that he wanted assurances that he would be selected in the first round or he was pulling out of the draft. NBA personnel weren't able to guarantee that he would be in the first round. Williams was likely going to be a second-round pick.

Only the Miami Heat and the Detroit Pistons told Williams they
would consider selecting him with a late first-round pick, according to his mother, Debra Williams.

Williams could be a first-round pick next season. He could be a first-team all-ACC performer and has a shot at first-team All-America.

The Demon Deacons are losing sophomore point guard Chris Paul. Williams' return means Wake Forest returns its top two scorers in Williams (16.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and senior-to-be Justin Gray (16 ppg), who will take over for Paul at the point. Clearly, Williams benefited from Paul being the point and will need to be even more assertive to match similar numbers with Gray distributing the ball.

Along with Paul, the Deacons are losing seniors Taron Downey (9.9 ppg), Jamaal Levy (7.6 ppg) and Vytas Danelius (7.1 ppg). Williams, who led the ACC in field-goal percentage (63 percent), is expected to try out for the USA Basketball U-21 team in July that is competing in Argentina in August.

Williams becomes the second player who was in Chicago to officially announce that he would return to school with a third likely to follow in Illinois' Dee Brown. West Virginia's Kevin Pittsnogle told ESPN.com Friday that he would return to school.

Brown said he was likely going back after breaking his foot in a game Wednesday at the Moody Bible Institute. He had surgery on the foot on Friday. Brown will be out for at least two months while he recovers.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.