During an extensive interview Friday morning, Nigel Williams-Goss confirmed reports that he's leaving Washington and explained why he's transferring to another Division I school after two successful years with the Huskies.
During an extensive interview Friday morning, Nigel Williams-Goss confirmed reports that he’s leaving Washington and explained why he’s transferring to another Division I school after two successful years with the Huskies.
The 6-3 sophomore guard, who led the Huskies in points (15.6 scoring average), assists (5.9 per game) and minutes (36.8) while also averaging 4.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals, said he was uncomfortable with the changes surrounding the program.
Williams-Goss said UW’s mediocre records – 16-15 this season and 17-15 last season – also played a role in his decision.
He denied reports about dissension among teammates and said he has a “good relationship” with coach Lorenzo Romar.
Williams-Goss figures to be one of the most sought-after players during the offseason. He’s drawn interest from Gonzaga, Texas, UNLV, Michigan State, Georgetown, Arkansas and Providence.
Here’s the transcript of the interview.
(Since the end of the season, what have you been going through?) “Since the end of the season, obviously I’ve been trying to figure out what’s best for me and what my next move was going to be. I did look at the NBA a little bit, I think that’s just what everyone just assumed that was the only thing I was going to look at. But clearly I wasn’t opposed to look at the option of transferring just because I am pretty close to graduation within the next year or so. And with two years of eligibility there’s still some things I do want to accomplish in college. And when it came down to it, I just felt like with all the changes in the program – and then those other things I just mentioned – I just felt most comfortable with choosing a different school.”
(Was that a decision that you made in the past few days and weeks or was this something that was building during the season?) “No. Like I said, during the season all I was focused on was the season. I wasn’t focused on my next move while we still had games remaining. But obviously when the season ended, I started looking at what I was going to do next. I didn’t automatically rule out the University of Washington. Like I said, I looked at all of my options as far as returning, going pro or transferring. And at the end of the day I just felt most comfortable and most excited about transferring.”
(When you evaluated the previous two years did you just say this wasn’t going to work for me because on the outside looking in, it seemed you were in a good place. You were a co-captain, leading scorer and top assist man. It seemed like a great situation.) “Obviously I had a great relationship with coach and I think that relationship will remain close for a lifetime. But like I said, there’s just a lot of changes that’s gone on in the program the last two years and continuing. Just for the stability aspect and really just kind of looking for a fresh start for my last two years of eligibility.”
(Have you been granted your release?) “Yeah, I got my release.”
(What’s your next move?) “I haven’t chosen a school. I’ve just been talking to different schools that’s been reaching out. But I haven’t made a decision yet.”
(Which schools have reached out to you?) “UNLV, Texas, Michigan State, Gonzaga, Georgetown, Arkansas and Providence.”
(Having gone through the recruiting process two years ago when you were a McDonald’s All-American at Findlay Prep, is being re-recruited anything like the first time?) “It’s a lot different now. I’ll be an incoming junior when I get to these schools so the recruiting process is a little bit different. I think I know better questions to ask now. Obviously I have more of an idea what I’m looking for having already played two years of high-level college basketball. So the recruiting process is a little bit different. I think experience is always the best teacher. Just kind of looking forward to taking my time and making the right decision.”
(When will you make a decision?) “I don’t have a timetable right now.”
(What are you looking for in a school, a team and a new coach?) “I’m really looking for just a situation one where I know it’s high intensity. It’s a program and a culture that’s built on preparing to win and competing to win. I know you’re not always going to do those things, but that’s just kind of the mindset. Obviously, going somewhere I still will have a big role. Like you said I did have a big role at Washington. I’m not going to go anywhere that my role will be diminished or anything like that.”
(How much did the losing wear on you? I don’t want to psychoanalyze or anything like that, but I would imagine the losing over the past two years was very difficult for you because you haven’t really had to deal with that before.) “Yeah, I mean, the losing was obviously very tough. I don’t think anyone enjoys losing by any means. But it also wasn’t the sole factor of why I’m leaving. It’s not like I felt like we didn’t win as much as I wanted to, then I had to just leave. It was tough. It played a part, but there’s just so many other changes in the program right now that I think played a much larger role in this decision. But as a competitor, losing is never fun and is never easy. That’s kind of a no-brainer.”
(Did you think others on the team didn’t share your feelings about hating to lose?) “No. I feel like all of the rest of the players hated losing just like I hated losing. I can’t speak to them on how they felt about it specifically. All I know is no one was happy in that locker room as we were losing. The one thing I can say as you’re asking me about the team is that we stayed super close and super tight throughout the season. And that was one thing that I was happy to be around – a tight-knit group. We didn’t turn against each other even though the season didn’t go how we wanted it to go.”
(To that point, there was was a report, or comment or tweet from an analyst that said there was a lack of cohesion this season. Did you witness anything like that?) “No. The one thing that I can say to that is, I haven’t even spoken to any reporter or anything like that, so that was kind of just a falsified statement because this is the first time I’m doing any type of interview. There was no friction or anything like that between teammates. We were a very tight-knit group. We got along great and we still do. So that was very inaccurate and like I said not true.”
(Maybe it’s not this simple, but it seems to me the season turned when Robert Upshaw left the team. As you look back and do an autopsy on the season, what happened?) “I can’t say it’s when Rob left because if you remember we were on a 4-5 game losing streak when we still had Rob. Then we came back home and won one. And then obviously the thing with Rob happened. I felt like the decline was already happening if you look at our record. We were already starting to go downhill. But losing a player like him was really bad timing because when Robert left, Jernard (Jarreau) went down right away. So we went from having a three bigs in the lineup to just Shawn Kemp (Jr.) by himself. So that really changed things with both of those two going down at the same time. I would say just right there that was a big turning point for us as well.”
(What was the reaction when you informed your teammates?) “They were very supportive. They were supportive of me. Like I said, going back to the team that we have – we all want what’s best for each other. There was no hard feelings or anything like that. I’m excited about this team next year. Obviously, they have a great recruiting class coming in. I definitely will still be pulling for them. It was no hard feelings and they just wished me the best of luck.”
(To that point about the recruiting class, is there anything to that notion that the incoming freshmen had anything to do with you leaving?) “I would say that would be the furthest from the truth. Obviously, like you just said you know how much I want to win. And I know how much playing with other great players goes into winning. I did it for four years in high school. I played with nothing but the nation’s top players. And some of the schools that have reached out to me have great players. So that would be nothing but the furthest from the truth. I was actually excited about playing with some of those guys.”
(How did coach Lorenzo Romar take the news?) “He said any time a player leaves a program it’s not a great feeling. But he also understood the situation. Like I said, me and coach have a really good relationship. So it was more kind of just tough to say goodbye to a guy that I’ve been so close with and I know it was the same for him. But at the end of the day, he understood and I felt strongly about my decision as well.”
(What would you say to Romar’s critics who say he’s not the coach who will lead Washington out its downturn?) “To be honest, I can’t really speak on that. Someone asked me during the season if I was feeling the pressure that Romar was under and I really didn’t comment on that because that was nothing that we ever talked about as a team or me and coach ever talked about. Like I said, all I can speak on is my relationship with coach. He’s honored everything that we’ve ever talked about. We have a great relationship. I’ve honored everything that he’s asked of me. Like I said, I have nothing bad to say about Coach Romar. I’m thankful for the opportunity that he’s given me.”