The morning after he graduated from high school, Marvin Williams boarded a plane for North Carolina, leaving his buddies and Bremerton behind.
Fresh off a senior season in which he averaged 28 points and 16 rebounds and became just the sixth Washington player to be selected for the prestigious McDonald’s All-American game, he arrived in Chapel Hill as one of the most touted prospects this state has produced.
Some called him the best ever.
Six months later, Williams looks every bit worthy of the hype. As the sixth, sometimes seventh man in coach Roy Williams’ rotation, the 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 9.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals in just more than 21 minutes a game, helping the Tar Heels to a 9-1 record and a No. 5 national ranking.
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Marvin Williams shares a dorm room with fellow freshman Quentin Thomas, a guard from Oakland, Calif., and just completed his first academic term with classes in African American studies, English, drama and geography.
His father, Marvin Sr., a native of North Carolina, made the move, too, and now lives in Wallace, about 90 minutes away.
Williams said the toughest part of the transition was adjusting to life away from home. Asked what he missed about Bremerton, he said: “Everything. It’s home. You know me, I’m a homebody. But it’s not bad here at all.”
He said a typical day starts about 7:30 a.m. and doesn’t end until after midnight. Classes, study hall, meals, practice and weight-lifting sessions fill the hours.
“You just put in so much time and work,” Williams said, “you can’t even imagine.”
Rumors swirled last spring that Williams would enter the NBA draft, where some projected him as a first-round pick.
But now that he’s at North Carolina, he said he’s enjoying life as a student athlete.
“I hope to be here. College is great,” he said. “But only God knows your future.”