Scottie Bordelon is a reporter for the Hawgs Sports Network. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas and previously covered high school sports for the Times Record in Fort Smith and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He was the 2022 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
If Williams returns, expect fewer charges taken
Arkansas forward Jaylin Williams reacts on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the end of the Sweet 16 round of the 2022 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Chase Center in San Francisco, Calif. Check out nwaonline.com/220325Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for the photo gallery.
Arkansas forward Jaylin Williams has a decision to make in the near future.
On account of the level at which he played after the calendar turned to 2022 and during the Razorbacks’ second run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament in as many seasons, the sophomore can test the NBA Draft waters this spring and go all in on his professional career.
Or Williams can return to Arkansas for his junior year and be the unquestioned leader and anchor of a team many will tab as a contender to reach the 2023 Final Four in Houston. If that does happen, expect to see the All-SEC defensive team selection’s style of play change a bit.
“We’ve had a postseason meeting already,” Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman told The Field of 68 on Friday at the Final Four in New Orleans. “One of the things I did say was, ‘If you come back, we’ve got to stop taking all of these charges, because the NBA game is more verticality.'
"In the NBA game, when you play 82 games, you cannot take charges or your body will break down.”
Williams took college basketball by storm in a way with his ability to draw charges last season. He finished with 54 over 37 games and took multiple charges in a game 18 times.
Williams drew a season-high four charges against Cincinnati at the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City and Tennessee, and at LSU. He has 70 charges to his credit since arriving at Arkansas.
“Hey, just go vertical because of the pounding your body takes,” Musselman said. “Certainly with Jaylin that’s something — if he came back, when he comes back potentially — we’re going to want to not take so many charges, go vertical more to try to save his body."
Musselman added he recalls one of his coaching mentors, Chuck Daly, having a similar conversation with Horace Grant. At the time, Musselman was an assistant under Daly with the Orlando Magic in 1998-99 while Grant was in his 12th season in the NBA.
“Longevity is important for a player, too," Musselman said. "Your body is kind of your temple, your paycheck, so to speak, so that’s something we want to change.”
Williams led the Razorbacks last season with 41 blocks and was second with 48 steals.
His 41 blocks were the fewest by a Razorback single-season leader since Hunter Mickelson had 39 in 2012-13.
“He has so many of the skills that NBA teams are interested in from their bigs,” Sam Vecenie, NBA Draft analyst for The Athletic, wrote last month. “The only issue is whether or not he’s athletic enough to do it all at the NBA level. He could stand to lean out and get into better shape.
"If he did that, it might add to his ability to protect the rim. Right now, Williams gets by largely with positioning and ability to take charges.”
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