ESPN's Chad Ford unveiled his second mock draft yesterday, and for Connecticut high school hoops fans, the name going to the Celtics should ring pretty familiar.
Ford has the Celtics taking Torrington native and Maryland sophomore Jordan Williams at the No. 25 spot, writing, "The Celtics miss Kendrick Perkins, who was drafted (by Memphis) late in the first round of the 2003 draft. Williams could be another potential sleeper. He is big and physical and was one of the best rebounders in college basketball this past season. If he can stay in the sort of shape he displayed in Las Vegas, he could be a steal at this juncture in the draft."
The 6-foot-10 Williams is most remembered locally for a decorated career at Torrington High, where he finished as the state's seventh all-time leading scorer with 2,228 points. The nephew of former UConn standout Murray Williams, he was a three-time all-state who was named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year, and the New Haven Register's Player of the Year as a senior.
He was a freshman on the Torrington squad that won a state title in 2006, and led the Raiders to the Class L state final in 2009 -- and at that, he put up 36 points (15 of 20 FG), 13 rebounds and nine blocks in the losing effort. Just as impressive, he averaged 35.7 points per game to finish as the school's all-time leading scorer.
Most notably, Williams did ridiculous stuff like shatter a backboard (skip to the 0:31 mark). Or score 50 points in a game, which he did four times, breaking his uncle's record at Torrington in January 2009.
All of that led him to College Park, where he became the first Terp since Steve Blake to make the ACC's All-Rookie Team in 2010. This season was even more impressive, as he averaged 16.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and a 53.8 field goal percentage in 33 minutes a game. Williams declared for the draft on March 29, but did not hire an agent.
Ford's latest analysis on Williams, from May 12, notes an improved physique from the end of the season:
Maryland's Jordan Williams has transformed his body. Williams was one of the best rebounders in college basketball last season -- but he was a bit on the flabby side. He showed strength and toughness in the paint, but his lack of explosive leaping ability and conditioning were major issues.
Williams heard that feedback loud and clear from NBA scouts when he decided to leave school and he's spent the past six weeks in Vegas working on his body. The results are pretty impressive, as you can see here in this photo I tweeted Tuesday.
He's lost 10 pounds, dropped from 13 percent body fat to 8 percent and really hasn't lost any strength but has gained quickness, explosiveness and agility in the process. He's also improved his jump shot over the course of the past six weeks as well.
Williams might be slightly undersized for a center (he measured 6-8 3/4 in socks, 6-10 in shoes at Impact), but he's got a 6-11½ wingspan, is physical and is a proven commodity on the boards.
Williams also excelled with the Springfield, Mass.-based New England Playaz AAU club during the summer. For some perspective, here is how ESPN's recruiting analysts broke down Williams during his high school career:
July, 2008: Williams has good size and strength, which he uses to wreak havoc in the post on both ends of the court. He uses his size to carve out deep position in the post for rebounding and scoring close to the basket. Williams, despite his size, runs the floor reasonably well and will finish in transition, keeping up with the smaller, quicker guards. He rebounds in traffic very well, and extra contact does not seem to bother him most of the time. Once he receives the ball in the post, he relies on his emerging post game to score in the paint, though he needs to continue to improve his footwork and post moves. Williams needs to continue to improve his body, which will lead to even better conditioning and make him effective for longer stretches. Williams does contest shots, though he needs to use his imposing size to affect the game more on the defensive end.
July, 2008: Williams is a late bloomer who is now getting attention from the high-major level. He has thick frame with long arms and very soft hands. He doesn't have great lift but his feet are quite nimble for a man his size. He is best described as blue-collar around the basket and he rebounds well in traffic. He has a strong drop-step move, but overall his post moves are raw.
December, 2007: Jordan is an extremely polished low post player. He has excellent footwork and soft hands that allow him to easily establish position and catch a variety of passes. He has an impressive repertoire of moves with his back to the basket that allows him the versatility to score over either shoulder. He is equally effective from the high post where he shows a consistently soft touch on his elbow jumper. Jordan doesn't have great size for the power forward position, but he plays bigger than he is because of his physical nature. Consequently, he finishes well under the basket, despite his lack of vertical explosion, and also gets himself to the free-throw line where he converts a high percentage. He is also a very effective rebounder because he is quick to block out, holds on to everything that his hands touch, and shows a willingness to rebound out of his area. Although he isn't much of a shot blocking threat on the defensive end of the floor he is capable of guarding bigger players on the most given his physical nature. Overall, he is as skilled of a big man as you will find who has a great understanding of how to play inside. If he were three inches taller he would be unstoppable.