Latavious Williams Is A Prototype, Of Sorts

Williams became the first player to be drafted out of high school by the D-League when the Tulsa 66ers made him the final selection of the first round last month. A star forward from the Humble (Texas) Christian Life Center Academy, Williams was rated as the 17th best player in the 2009 recruiting class by Rivals.com. He selected Memphis over Georgetown, Kansas State and Florida International, but had trouble qualifying academically and began to consider his professional options. Like Jennings, Williams wanted to improve his stock for the NBA draft. He chose to stay closer to home to do it.

“There are no regrets at all,” said Williams, who has played sparingly since the 66ers’ season started last week. “…I just came here to get better.”

via D-League offers option for prep-to-pro players – NBA – Yahoo! Sports- Marc Spears.

Williams is talented, and you can see that. Nate Timmons is going to take it easy with him, after all, he’s got established guys and Mullens that he needs to focus on. But he’ll develop him, and he’ll get better. Good news is he’s projected at 16 rebounds per 40, which is kind of awesome. Also hard to throw the high schooler a bone when you’re struggling to get back to .500 and play in the Western Conference.

What I think is so great about Williams is it could be the first step in we as a basketball society stopping the charade that is college athletics. Now, it says something that no one could sneak Williams into college. But I don’t care if my plumber nailed his ACTs, if my doctor failed English, or if my senator struggles with long division, so it doesn’t bother me any that the kid couldn’t make college. But if he can be succesful, it opens the door for more kids to take that route. And with a little help from the CBA in 2011 (please, Lord, remember the D-League), you could see the pay jump or God willing the salary cap removed for the league. Why is this good? Because kids won’t have to go to college, deal with faking SATs, deal with being scrutinized for their behavior when the only reason they’re at the school is so alumni can cheer for them while they’re not getting paid and the schools can get rich off of them.  There will always be kids who want to go to college. But we can stop fooling ourselves into thinking this is the right way for these kids to be forced to live their lives. More time can be spent on teaching defense from a young age. More scholarship money can be spent on kids who actually need the money because they won’t have a professional athletic career.

LW is just a kid who’s trying to pursue his best option to make a living at what he does left. And right now, his life sucks pretty hard. Living in Tulsa making $16,000 even with accomodations is pretty crappy. But if it means this kid gets drafted and gets to play in the NBA, having walked the hard road that wouldn’t have been available to him if it weren’t for the D-League? That’s a dream I think everyone can get behind.

Matt Moore

Matt Moore is a Senior NBA Blogger for CBSSports.com's Eye on Basketball blog, weekend editor of Pro Basketball Talk on NBCSports.com, and co-editor of Voice on the Floor. He lives in Kansas City due to an unbelievably complex set of circumstances and enjoys mid-90's pop rock, long walks on the beach and the novels of Tim Sandlin.