Interview with Marcus Williams
Jonathan Givony - President
June 2, 2006
DraftExpress recently got the chance to sit down with top point guard prospect Marcus Williams, after his workout with former Duke Star Jay Williams. Not many are questioning the skills he brings to the court, and for good reason as Marcus was able to meet and even exceed our expectations with his solid showing.
The main questions he’ll be facing when sitting down with the NBA brass are those that pertain to his character and attitude. The so-called intangibles that tend to determine if a player becomes special or simply remains the same are what will be most heavily scrutinized over the next few weeks.
While we haven’t been able to explore all these intangible qualities to the utmost of our capability in such a setting, the demeanor and response to the questions we asked were certainly a good indicator of a man who’s learned from his mistakes and knows how to exorcise the type of judgment needed to be a point guard at the highest level. Time will tell on how high he truly climbs, but the foundation is in place. The rest is up to him.
Jonathan Givony: I was talking to Jay [Williams] and he said you guys have been here a month. What types of things have you been working on here?
Marcus Williams: Well, a lot of shooting. We come down here in the morning and shoot for about an hour and a half. Then we’ll go two on two and at 4 pm we’ll shoot for another hour and a half. So we’re just getting a lot of shots up and really competing against Jay everyday, he can only make me better.
Jonathan Givony: Anything you think you’ve improved on while you’ve been here, any little things in your game?
Marcus Williams: Definitely going hard all the time. Going up against someone like Jay and just seeing his work ethic on the court and in the weight room, I mean going against him everyday I have to go hard or I’ll get embarrassed out there.
Jonathan Givony: You’ve gone up against a lot of great point guards this year. If Jay was in this years draft where do you think he would go? How do you think he’d stack up?
Marcus Williams: He’d be one of the top guards I think. What he’s done with his comeback is just remarkable. His work ethic, his quickness, his drive to make it back to the NBA is just great. I tell him everyday “you keep working hard and you’re going to get back in there easy”. He’s got to get his lateral movement up a little, but his jump shot is his strength, the rest of his game is sweet. Everything is going up.
Jonathan Givony: You can see it in the drills and on the court. You can tell he just really wants it and is going after it 100 percent all the time.
Marcus Williams: Yes. You know, he’s always out there giving me little tips. I’m stronger than most people and I think that’s why he’s pushing me around out there, telling me to use my strength. I think that’s really going to help me.
Jonathan Givony: How have your workouts been going so far? How many teams have you been to?
Marcus Williams: I’ve done three: Toronto, Boston, and Minnesota.
Jonathan Givony: Anything surprise you? Did you feel like you were prepared for them?
Marcus Williams: I thought I was prepared. Nothing really surprised me. Pretty much everything we did, we did here-except the two on two part. I think I really shot the ball well, but I feel I did everything pretty well.
Jonathan Givony: There’s been some stuff out there about conditioning. What’s your perspective on that?
Marcus Williams: (laughing) I feel fine. I mean, in Boston the Celtic Run record is 29 and I got 26.
Jonathan Givony: What exactly is the Celtic Run?
Marcus Williams: They give you 3 minutes and see how many times you can run full court back and forth. Each one up the court is one.
Jonathan Givony: Sprints?
Marcus Williams: Sprints.
Jonathan Givony: So are you at 220 pounds right now?
Marcus Williams: No, I’m at 214 pounds. But I’m going to go down to 210lbs, that’ll be fine.
Jonathan Givony: That’s what it seems like. So what workouts do you have coming up?
Marcus Williams: Well, I’ve got Houston on Wednesday and then it’s on to Orlando for pre-draft.
Jonathan Givony: I hate to quote other people, but we hear Rondo is saying “Marcus Williams is dodging me” or something like that. Have they asked you for a workout and you said no I don’t want to?
Marcus Williams: I attend every workout. Wait, I think we have the same agent, so how can we dodge each other?
Jonathan Givony: (laughing) So you keep in touch with your teammates at all?
Marcus Williams: Oh ya, I talked to Rudy the other day, he was in DC getting ready for a Charlotte workout. Talked to Denham by text message and he said he was in Chicago. Hilton is out here in Santa Monica. Rashad is working out at IMG, going at it hard down in Florida.
Jonathan Givony: Denham and Rashad got into Orlando. So are you going to have a little reunion down there? At least five of the six of you will be there, I don’t know about Josh [Boone].
Marcus Williams: I think he got a letter. My dad says he’s going to go. So, it looks like all six of us will be there.
Jonathan Givony: All six UCONN guys, how’s that going to be?
Marcus Williams: (laughing) it’s going to be crazy.
Jonathan Givony: So has this whole process been tedious for you? Do you feel like you even get to show what you can do or do you wish the draft just happened right after the tournament?
Marcus Williams: I wish it was like the girls. Their tournament is over and two or three days later they have their draft. For us, it’s three long months you’ve got to wait. I mean, you’ve got to fly all over and work out for different teams and then get your workouts in, often two a day, so it’s real tiring. But, it’ll be worth it come June 28th.
Eric Weiss: We talked about this the other day, but what do you feel is more important, how high you go in the draft or the situation you go to?
Marcus Williams: I’d rather go to a place that I’ll get to step in and play to try and help the team be better than they were last year. A team like Toronto or Atlanta, help them make the playoffs or just get them on the right track.
Eric Weiss: Who are your ideal teammates? What type of tempo would you like to play in?
Marcus Williams: I like the up and down game. I think I can really set the table. I think I can get the ball to guys so they really don’t have to make plays. I can get them in a position where they get a wide open shot or don’t have to do much to get one; a team like Toronto where they can get up and down with Mo Pete, Chris Bosh, Charlie [Villanueva]. Charlie’s one of the smartest players I’ve played with. Atlanta has some great wings in Joe Johnson, Childress, Smith. A team like that, that can really get up and down.
Jonathan Givony: Do you think you’ve got a shot at going number one? There are constant reports out there day that Toronto really likes you, but are they going to trade down? Do you think that going number one is realistic?
Marcus Williams: I don’t know. I don’t even think about it. That’s a crazy thought to even be considered in that category.
Jonathan Givony: What about your thoughts on the NCAA tournament. It could be said that you were the best player in the tournament, but you ended up losing in the Elite 8. What are your thoughts on that?
Marcus Williams: I think going into the tournament I was kind of nervous because of what Coach Calhoun said about being the most important player in the tournament. He put that on me, so I felt like I didn’t want to make a mistake and then if we fell short everything would be on me. So, I think in the first half of the games I was very passive. I just looked to move the ball around, see who was hot and who was not. In the last game, no one was really scoring, so in the second half I just took the initiative to see if I could get it going and I just started scoring.
Jonathan Givony: How easy or hard is it to play on a team with so many NBA caliber guys on it? Some people have said that you had it easy because of the quality of teammates you had around you.
Marcus Williams: People thought it was easy, but it was probably the hardest team I’ve ever had to play on. I mean you had 6 other players including the freshman Jeff Adrien, who was key. So, it’s hard to figure out who to get the ball to. You’ve got Rudy on one wing who just scored, and then you’ve got Rashad on the other who hasn’t touched the ball in 2 or 3 possessions. Then Hilton probably just made a great defensive play and you want to reward him. It’s hard to make those decisions. Of course, you’ve got your teammates all in your ear saying “I need the ball, give me the ball.” I think it’s probably the hardest job and I just tried to make the best out of it.
Jonathan Givony: Especially coming into that situation in the middle of the year.
Marcus Williams: Right. Sometimes I’m hot too, and I feel that I’ve got to score a bit. So really I just try to ration it out and keep everybody happy throughout the game.
Eric Weiss: Continuing what you’re talking about. Do you consider yourself a vocal leader? Do communicate with everyone while you’re out there?
Marcus Williams: You have to. We’ve got a couple of players who are quite and really don’t talk like that. Rudy is not that vocal, Josh definitely isn’t vocal. Denham is more a lead by example guy. Rashad is more lead by example. Hilton was a big, so nobody’s going to listen to a big the way they are to a guard when it comes to setting things up. So, I felt I had to step in during the middle of the season and be that vocal leader because we really didn’t have one. So I just tried to take on every role that was needed, and with my teammates that wasn’t really ever a problem. Even coming into it in the middle of the season, they were never like “you just got here, we’re not going to listen to you.” They listened to everything I had to say and we just went out there and played.
Eric Weiss: Taking that idea to the NBA level, you’re not going to be afraid to assert yourself? I mean, you’re obviously going to be dealing with some more established NBA veterans. So you’re not going to shy away from speaking up and sharing your opinions and viewpoints in any given situation?
Marcus Williams: Not at all. This is a business. It’s not like I’m going to go out there and be like “I’m younger than you, I got to do what you say.” This is my business and this is my position as a point guard. I’ve got to be vocal and try and help my teammates as well as them helping me to adjust to the NBA game. I can go in there and give my two cents to everyone that I think needs it and just go from there.
Jonathan Givony: In the interview during the workouts have you been prepared for the questions about the whole laptop situation? Do you look forward to talking about it?
Marcus Williams: Of course, I mean they ask about it all the time. So, I just tell them the truth. It was a mistake I made and I think it humbled me a lot. My mother came out to stay with me and I think it ended up being a great situation, a blessing in disguise. When I came back it was like the spotlight was on me, was I going to buckle in that situation. My mom says that everything happens for a reason, so the way I look at it is maybe I needed that spotlight to be shined at me.
Jonathan Givony: You think it made you mature as a person?
Marcus Williams: Yes, I think it made me a man quick. I took care of my responsibilities with the legal elements of it and with my coach and then everyone else. Then I got back on the court and played.
Jonathan Givony: It’s a different situation but also kind of the same as what Jay has gone through. Adversity. It shows you that not everything is always going to come easy in life and there are going to be certain roadblocks that you’re going to have to go through and overcome.
Marcus Williams: I think it kind of shows what type of person you are. You can’t go into a shell after you know that you made a mistake. You have to bounce back and show what kind of person you truly are, be a great person. Even with a mistake, you’ve got to fight through the adversity.
Jonathan Givony: Do you think people are out of line with some of the signs they bring to the games and all that?
Marcus Williams: I mean, of course. But what can you do? You’ve just got to laugh, smile, and wave. It really didn’t bother me. I was actually looking for some creativity from them. But, everyone kept bringing the same thing. So, by the time the tournament came it was getting pretty old. You know, the whole month of December my mom was waking me up yelling “Laptop! Laptop!” and all that stuff. She just said she was getting me ready for when I got back. Basically when you’re hearing that from your mom everyday, it really doesn’t matter what 15,000 fans are saying.
Jonathan Givony: What about the other Big East guys. Randy Foye, Steve Novak, it seems like there are a lot of top guys coming out of there this year.
Marcus Williams: The Big East is a big conference this year. You also got Allan Ray, Kyle Lowry, Gansey, Pittsnogle, Bowman. There are a lot of guys.
Jonathan Givony: I think you’re going up against Lowry in Houston this week. Good luck, and we’ll catch up with you again in Orlando or in Summer League.
Marcus Williams: That should be a good one. Thanks and take care.