Collapse ends Williams' high school career. It wasn't supposed to end this way. Not after taking home the state championship in 2007. Not after starting the season ranked as the number one team in the country. Not after the outgoing seniors won 130 games in their four seasons -- three of them will attend Division I programs next year. But it did end, in extremely disappointing fashion, as the Duncanville Panthers gave up a 16-point second half lead against eventual state runner-up Cedar Hill and lost on a last-second shot.
Gerry Hamilton describes ($) the Duncanville team as one lacking chemistry at the end of the season and broken up by individuals playing selfishly to support their growing egos. Shawn Williams thinks that the success of their state title went to their collective heads:
After we won, things changed. I'm kind of glad it's over and I'm ready to get to Texas.
Duncanville coach Phil McNeely also had enough, retiring following the season after 31 years as a high school coach, including the last 25 at Duncanville. In his final statements as coach, he said that there were no negatives, but can the timing really be a coincidence? Was the fractured 2009 team enough to drive him from coaching?
It's hard to ascertain the answers to these questions and the truth may never be known, unless someone close to the program has inside information. However, it does have significance to the Longhorn basketball team next year. Coming from such a talented team was supposed to be a benefit for Shawn Williams, helping him learn how to play a role on an excellent basketball, how to share the spotlight and avoid the me-first mentality so many former high school stars must shed at the college level. Hamilton calls Williams "unselfish," ostensibly relieving him of blame for the disappointing end to the season, but now the question is how much he learned about what not to do.
Whatever those lessons may be, Williams is working hard in the off season with the intention of contributing to a deep team in 2009-10:
I'm tying to get ready. I'm lifting weights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday I go to work out with a guy that works out LaMarcus Aldridge and Chris Bosh in the offseason. I'm really working on my ball handling and explosiveness. I think handling the ball is number one for me. Being able to go by people off the dribble is big for me because I have to be guarded.
Despite what some readers may believe, ball handling has some long an area needing serious improvement for Williams, who needs little work on his pure shooting form. The other question for Wiliams is the health of his left ankle, which he has continually tweaked over the last few seasons. Named the DMN Player of the Year, Williams averaged 20.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and made more than 80 three pointers on the season, including a 44-point outburst against South Grand Prairie in February.
Despite Hamilton's comment about Williams being unselfish, there have been some doubters over the years:
Spectators said Williams played in slow motion, almost as if he appeared not to be trying. They thought he wasn't a factor when he was on the court. Some even had the nerve to question his work ethic and why he was heavily recruited.
According to McNeely, Williams gave the impression of not trying because the game came so easily to him -- he's just one of those fluid players, giving max effort without appearing like it. For his part, Williams has heard the criticism and brushes it off:
I always heard stuff like that. Most of those people don't even know me. The ones who were around me and were at practice with me, they knew better.
Ultimately, Rick Barnes and his staff had the final say about their opinion of Williams' work ethic, giving their approval by their offer. So, after a trying season of discontent, Williams will step onto campus in June, finally a Longhorn.
Dorsey trip not a sign of open recruitment. Ever reactionary, Texas message boards buzzed over the weekend about 2010 defensive tackle commit Ashton Dorsey's apperance in College Station for the Aggie Maroon & White game. Turns out there is nothing to fear ($), as Dorsey made the trip simply to spend time with his older brother Adren, a redshirt freshman defensive tackle and calls Texas ($) "the greatest school in the United States."
Dorsey will be back on the 40 Acres for a June camp and is working hard to prepare for spring practice. Working on his strength and speed are priorities, Dorsey says, as he works out, runs ladder drills, and tries to increase his speed and strength using tires and parachutes.
Hamilton on Hamilton. Since I haven't had the chance to watch Saturday's Jordan Brand Classic and don't have much of an inclination after seeing the effort put forth by most participants, Gerry Hamilton has kindly filled in the blanks about Jordan Hamilton ($):
Hamilton came off the bench for the Black Team and wasted little time getting up his first shot as a senior hoisting up a 25-footer, which was a miss. Hamilton scored his first basket on an uncontested layup and then converted a 25-footer from the top of the key for his five first half points while shooting 2-6.
As has been the case many times watching Hamilton, his all-around play is underrated and was impressive. Because of his ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays for others, the 6-7.5 wing is a threat in transition after snatching a rebound. Hamilton takes away the need for an outlet pass and immediately pushes the ball without the need of an outlet pass.
Hamilton made a couple of nifty lob passes for dunks as well as grabbing four rebounds in the first half.
The #13 prospect in the 2009 class got the start in the second half and immediately hit a 22-foot three from the right wing, but would miss on his next three long range attempts as well as a forced, tough 12-footer off the dribble. Hamilton pulled down two more rebounds and made two more impressive passes in traffic for assists.
Hamilton also got down in a defensive stance when guarding on the perimeter and attempted use his length to cause deflections.
On the night, Hamilton hit 3-10 from the field and 2-6 from three for eight points to go with six rebounds and four assists.
Hamilton will have to work on shot selection at times as he is too quick to settle for the 24-footers. Don't expect to see Hamilton hoisting the ball from 25 feet at Texas often.
Shot selection will probably be an issue early on for Hamilton, as he has a quick trigger and is known as a scorer, but players normally learn quickly about which shots Rick Barnes does and does not tolerate -- receiving a fast hook on several occasions generally accelerates the learning curve.
On the positive side, Hamilton's willingness to pass the ball in a me-first game reflects well on his ability to make plays for his teammates and any effort on the defensive end is impressive in such a game. Gerry mentions Jordan's ability to lead in transition (a skill lost not possessed by Damion James) will greatly aid the Longhorn transition game and relieve pressure on the half-court offense. Jordan Hamilton and Avery Bradley leading the break should be a beautiful sight to behold next season.
Has the light come on for Vince? It's premature to label Vince Young's NFL career a bust, but the time of judgment is rapidly approaching. Another season sulking on the Titans bench behind the aging Kerry Collins might be enough to end Young's career in Tennessee and send him looking for a job and final shot at redemption. For his part, Young is saying the right things in the off season:
I am just going to keep my mouth closed, man. All I am doing this year is shutting up, just shutting up and working. I am going to smile and shut up and continue being Vince Young, a happy smiling guy. I am not going to get into the hoopla any more because of the fact I can't win any more, I see.
I am just going to shut my mouth and play my role and if they need me then I will be available as a weapon.
Whether that talk becomes anything more than that during the season remains to be seen, but Young's sideline demeanor is in desperate need of a makeover. Known for having a thin skin, Young needs to move past his desire to shut down emotionally when life doesn't work out as planned and put in the time and effort watching film and throwing with his teammates to succeed. Turns out taking the NFL by storm isn't as easy as you thought, Vince.
From the Land of Miscellany. Sherrod Harris, Blake Gideon, and Jared Norton all had minor surgeries, but should be ready for fall practice...The Aggies finally won something...Austin Wood was named Big 12 Pitcher of the Week after recording three saves...Eddie Johnson, 2010 wide receiver from Midlothian and one-time possible Texas target, gave his verbal commitment to Baylor...Sergio Kindle is the 13th-ranked player in the Big 12 by Tim Griffin.