GLENDALE — When college basketball coaches sit at a “green room” table with their players on NBA draft night, as Arizona’s Tommy Lloyd is expected to do with Bennedict Mathurin on Thursday, this is not only a show of support, but also an important recruiting advantage.
Like, guess who helped make this player the first-round pick that nearly all of the Green Room guests are? Who helped them secure a guaranteed two-year contract worth at least $4 million?
Top recruiting targets around the world, dreaming one day of their own Green Room looks and seven-figure salaries, could take notice as cameras routinely show the families and coaches who played a role in their development.
But maybe this year it can work the other way around. Perhaps some elite college coaches will take notice when they see Gilbert Perry High School’s Cody Williams sitting in the green room. Because he’ll be sitting with his brother, Jalen, perhaps the fastest progressing player in this year’s draft.
6-foot-6 guard Jalen Williams was drafted lightly to Perry in 2019, spent three seasons becoming a West Coast conference pick at Santa Clara, but in a league where the vast majority of attention is given at Gonzaga, BYU and Saint Mary’s.
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Then he completely exploded this spring after strong performances in the NBA Combine and team practices.
So who knows what Cody Williams, now a four-star, 6-8 senior at Perry, could become in a few years? Already showing interest in Arizona and being drafted at a higher level, Cody says he’s a different player to his brother but they both share a passion for defense.
In addition to eye-opening performances on the court at the NBA Combine, Jalen Williams ranked first in wingspan at 7-foot-2.25, an inch and a half ahead of UA’s Dalen Terry, who was second at 7-0.75.
“People don’t realize he’s a lockdown advocate,” Cody Williams said. “It has a wingspan that was bigger than a lot of 7ft in the combine. He’s an underrated passer. He opens up guys, he’s really selfless and he’s super versatile. He can shoot the ball deep so he can fit into many teams.
“So when he started working and they started seeing him at the combine and in his practices, I wasn’t surprised.”
Playing for Perry at the Section 7 showcase this weekend, Cody Williams is making his own leap this spring, into recruiting advice. During a postgame interview, Williams said he wasn’t sure how many scholarship offers he had, but that they included Washington State and the Nevada (247 reported that ASU, Colorado and USC also extended their offers).
Williams is expected to receive even more offers this summer, although he said he wasn’t focused on that possibility, noting that Arizona’s coaches have been encouraging.
Arizona already has a Perry alum on the roster, freshman center Dylan Anderson, while the Wildcats have also expressed interest in sophomore forward Koa Peat, who left Perry this weekend to try out. USA Basketball’s U17 team.
“They just said to keep working hard, they’re really interested and it’s going to be fine,” Williams said of the UA coaches. “So I just kept my head down and ground.”
He doesn’t have to look far for a role model to help him.
Jalen Williams broke into Santa Clara’s starting lineup 10 games into his first season of 2019-20, made an all-league honorable mention as a sophomore and last season ranked second among WCC scorers (18.0 points) while becoming a finalist for the Lou Henson Award given to the best mid-major player in the country.
“He’s definitely grown since his freshman year,” Cody Williams said of his brother. “A lot of people maybe don’t get the year they wanted their freshman year and they get transferred, but he kind of held up to Santa Clara, kept his head down and ground down. It really worked for him. »
Contact sportswriter Bruce Pascoe at 573-4146 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @brucepascoe