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Deferential Williams Now in Spotlight

June 26, 2005|From Associated Press

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Marvin Williams never tried to be a star, choosing to blend in on a talented North Carolina team that went on to win a national championship.

Too bad he never had the kind of game befitting someone so comfortable with anonymity.

The 19-year-old has a big man's body and a guard's shooting touch, skills that have made the 6-foot-9 forward a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick in next week's NBA draft. And from shoe deals to photo shoots to workouts in which his entire game is scrutinized, Williams now can't escape the spotlight after just one year as a college reserve.

"I'm comfortable," Williams said Friday. "I like to be, I guess, behind the scenes. But I'm fine with it, definitely. It's just part of basketball and I understand that."

On Friday, that meant sitting through a photo shoot on the Smith Center court and meeting with reporters before leaving today for Tuesday's draft in New York.

He sat in a chair and posed with a basketball, then gave a sheepish smile to some good-natured ribbing from Melvin Scott, a senior on the title team who showed up to work out with him.

"It's just funny to see that now he's a model," Scott said. "He's up in the clouds, but he's down to earth. He's real humble. They're trying to make him a big-time celebrity, but he deserves it."

Williams averaged 11 points and seven rebounds as the Tar Heels' sixth man. The modest freshman never started a game, but sure found ways to stand out and showed maturity beyond his years.

Williams honored a friend's request by posing with one hand behind his head during a breakaway slam against North Carolina State, capping a 20-point day of heady all-around play. He had the go-ahead three-point play to help North Carolina rally to beat Duke in the regular-season finale.

And Williams tipped in the go-ahead basket with 1:26 left in the Tar Heels' 75-70 win over Illinois in the NCAA final.

Now, Williams is working out three hours a day and waiting for draft night. Milwaukee has the top pick and has said it will choose either Williams or Utah's Andrew Bogut, likely leaving the other player for Atlanta at No. 2.

"I'm more concerned with which team I go to and how I fit in rather than being the No. 1 pick," said Williams, who has worked out for just those two teams. "I think that's most important when it comes down to it. You've got to fit in and like where you're at."

When asked about how he fit in with the Bucks and Hawks, Williams said, "The Bucks, that would be a good question because I'm not sure what position they would want me to play. That would be interesting to find out there.

"With the Hawks, those guys are young. They're all pretty much my age. They like to run and get up and down the floor, so I think I'd fit in pretty good with those guys."

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