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Can Keydet pick lock into NBA's ranks?

April 15, 2008 12:15 am

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Williams' scoring proficiency wowed many Keydet fans over the years, including 11-year-old Grayson Clark of Lexington. 0415reggieram1.jpg

Bowling Green native Reggie Williams, who set school and Big South scoring records in his four years at VMI, now wants to take his game to the next level. Solid performances at pre-draft camps will boost his status. spwilliams0415c.jpg

Reggie Williams finished his collegiate career with 2,556 total points, setting a VMI mark.

BY TAFT COGHILL JR.

PORTSMOUTH--

Reggie Williams was so pumped up directly after a Portsmouth Invitational Tournament first-round game Thursday, he could hardly contain himself.

"I'm just so hyped right now," he said.

But that wasn't the Reggie Williams, who had just poured in a game-high 22 points by using an array of jump shots, drives to the basket and rim-rattling dunks in front of dozens of National Basketball Association scouts and executives.

That was the father of the Caroline County native and former Virginia Military Institute star, who led Division I in scoring the past two seasons in an unconventional up-tempo offense.

"People say he was a product of his team's offense and he came out here and showed he's an all-around player," the elder Williams said of why he was so excited. "His stat line is something a lot of people would be proud of."

Vying to get noticed

In addition to his point total, that stat line included six assists and a 9-of-13 shooting effort from the floor.

Williams (6-foot-5, 195 pounds) said he wanted to show he was more than just a scorer, while competing against seniors from major conferences, such as Georgetown's Patrick Ewing Jr. and Wisconsin's Brian Butch in an effort to impress NBA scouts.

"Being that I come from a small school, I don't have a lot of exposure," Williams said. "A lot of these guys are coming from big-name schools you see on TV every week. People have already seen them and evaluated them, so this is big for me."

Williams was held to five points in his team's second-round game, but bounced back with 22 in the final contest.

He was named to the all-tournament team and was presented the sportsmanship award.

However, tournament honors aren't the purpose of the Portsmouth Invitational.

The goal is to impress a scout enough that a team is willing to risk a draft pick.

Williams' newly hired agent, Jerry Dianis, said that's a possibility if his client keeps showing he's an all-around player.

Chris Monter, editor/publisher of College Basketball News, told The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot that Williams has "a better than average" chance of being drafted.

"I think what Reggie does that surprises a lot of people is that he's a complete player," Dianis said. "Obviously he's the two-time leading scorer in the nation, but he also dribbles the ball well, distributes well and his cerebral game is outstanding. I think that's what surprises most NBA people."

A scout's view

In Portsmouth, Williams certainly caught the eye of one NBA Western Conference scout, who asked not to be identified.

The scout said Williams "was able to use his speed and quickness to score some points and be active on defense, so he really shined today."

He said Williams' strengths are his quickness and shooting ability.

"I haven't seen many weaknesses," the scout said. "It looks like he can get a little stronger, but other than that, he looks really solid."

Marty Blake, the NBA's director of scouting, said the league is well aware of Williams and his ability to run and shoot.

The scout agreed, but said he and others in his profession wanted to see how well Williams would perform against players from bigger schools. He said Williams "proved himself" in Portsmouth.

"The first thing that stood out is he was in very good shape," the scout said. "He ran the floor really well. That kind of sticks out in your mind when you see a guy flying up and down the court."

That was definitely the case at VMI, where Williams became the school's and the Big South Conference's all-time leading scorer with 2,526 career points.

He's just the ninth player in Division I history to lead the country in scoring in back-to-back seasons, placing his name alongside such basketball legends as Pete Maravich and Oscar Robertson.

"I'm so proud every time I see that," his father said of the accomplishment. "I get choked up and want to cry. It's great. It's beautiful. He had the dream since he was 10-years-old that he was going to be a professional basketball player. I'm glad he's still focused on trying to fulfill that dream."

What's next?

The next step for Williams is to earn an invitation to the Orlando, Fla., pre-draft camp, May 27-30.

The scout said that camp will be a better barometer for Williams' draft potential because it will focus on more half-court sets than Portsmouth, which often featured a style of play similar to the one Williams thrived in at VMI.

The invitations to Orlando won't go out until later this spring, but the Web site draftexpress.com said Williams may have done enough in Portsmouth to earn a trip to the prestigious camp.

Williams is waiting anxiously to find out if that's true.

"It's like do or die," he said. I wanted to do well here [in Portsmouth] so I can get to the next step. That's one step closer to my goal."

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526
Email: tcoghill@freelancestar.com




VMI's Reggie Williams is the ninth men's Division I player to lead the nation in scoring for at least two consecutive seasons. He joins a heralded list:

YEAR

PLAYER

SCHOOL

1952-54

Frank Selvy

Furman

1955-57

Darrell Floyd

Furman

1957-60

Oscar Robertson

Cincinnati

1968-70

Pete Maravich

LSU

1976-78

Freeman Williams

Portland State

1981-83

Harry Kelly

Texas Southern

1996-98

Charles Jones

Long Island

2003-05

Keydren Clark

St. Peter's

2006-08

Reggie Williams

VMI

2,526 points

That's the Bowling Green native's collegiate career point total, which set new marks in the VMI and Big South record books and tied for 47th on the NCAA Division I career list.




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