By Kevin McPherson

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas sophomore big man Jaylin Williams announced on Saturday that he will remain in the 2022 NBA Draft, forgoing the remaining three years of his college eligibility.

Sources confirmed that Williams (6-10 forward / center, native of Fort Smith) is working with Cleveland, Ohio-based Verus Management Team sport agency as he prepares for the draft. Williams joins Golden State rookie forward Jonathan Kuminga, New Orleans guard Kira Lewis, Chicago wing Derrick Jones, Jr., Charlotte guard Terry Rozier, and Atlanta Hawks wing Kevin Knox among the players represented by the Cleveland, Ohio-based Verus firm.

A source told that Williams has a draft guarantee and could go as high as the late first round. Williams also has a range of draft projections when combining multiple mock drafts and big boards with most suggesting a mid-second round grade. One NBA scout from a Western Conference team recently reaffirmed with his early second-round grade for Williams — Nos. “32, 33” — an opinion that did not change following Williams’ 2022 NBA Draft Combine testing (measurements and agility) and lone 5-on-5 competitive performance just over a week ago. Another NBA scout from an Eastern Conference team told following the combine that in a nutshell what stands out about Williams is “he’s not afraid to do the little things that help a team win.”

Williams interviewed with multiple NBA teams during the combine (May 16-22) in Chicago. He traveled to various NBA cities immediately following the combine for workouts and interviews with teams as his first stop was on Monday, May 23, in Atlanta to workout and meet with a Hawks organization that owns pick Nos. 16 (mid-first round) and 44 (mid-second round) followed by a workout and meeting with the Toronto Raptors (pick No. 33, early second round) on Wednesday, May 25. He also worked out for and met with the Oklahoma City Thunder (pick Nos. 2, 12, 30 spanning the early, mid, and late first round, and pick No. 34 in early second round) and the Dallas Mavericks (pick No. 26, late first round), according to sources.

Williams — named first team All SEC and SEC All Defensive team in 2021-22 — had the following measurements and agility testing numbers at the combine: height in shoes was 6-10; height without shoes was 6-8.75; wingspan was 7-1; standing reach was 9-0.5; weight was 236.6 pounds; body fat percentage was 8.0%; hand length was 8.5 inches; hand width was 10.5 inches; lane agility time was 11.64 seconds; 3/4-court sprint time was 3.50 seconds; maximum vertical was 30 inches; and standing vertical was 24.5 inches.

In his lone competitive 5-on-5 participation at the combine, Williams had 5 points (2-of-6 field goals, including 1-of-4 from 3), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 drawn charge, and a boxscore plus-minus of plus-15 in 21 minutes. His per-36-minute averages were 8.6 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks.

Williams’ announcement comes just 4 days before the NCAA’s June 1 deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the draft to maintain their college eligibility. The 2-round, 58-pick draft will be held Thursday, June 23, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Leading up to the draft combine, Williams had been training for weeks in Miami, going through strength-and-conditioning workouts as well as competitive basketball drills and scrimmaging.

The 2021-22 All SEC first team pick and All SEC Defensive Team honoree left the door open for a return to Arkansas when he originally announced in early April that he was entering the draft pool.

For more on Williams’ journey from the Hogs to the pros, see my recent articles published here at …

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From May 3, 2022 …

By Kevin McPherson

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas sophomore big man Jaylin Williams has been invited to participate in the 2022 NBA Draft Combine to be held May 16-22 in Chicago.

Sources have confirmed that Williams has been training in Miami, Fla. He has appeared on several mock draft lists with some late first-round projections but mostly mid-to-late second round projections. One NBA scout told in April that he determined Williams’ draft value to be “around (early second-round pick Nos.) 32, 33,” which if it went down that way would likely mean negotiated contract guarantees for at least two years and possibly three.

Williams (6-10 forward / center, native of Fort Smith) is the sixth Hog in the last five years to be invited to the NBA Draft Combine as he joins former Arkansas stars Jaylen Barford (2018), Daniel Gafford (2019), Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe (2020), and Moses Moody (2021).

Typically, 60 to 70 draft-eligible players projected to be selected in the 2-round, 60-player draft to be held in June are invited to the take part in the draft combine, a multi-day event during which players go through drills, measurements, and competitive 5-on-5 games.

The deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the draft to return to school is June 1.

Williams declared for the draft on April 4, and at the time he announced he would not hire an agent while leaving himself the option to return to Arkansas for his junior season in 2022-23. While he is in the process of gathering feedback to make a final determination whether to stay in the draft or return to school, Williams can take part in the draft combine as well as meet with and work out for individual teams.

For more on Williams’ decision to test the draft waters as well as his accomplishments in two years at Arkansas, see my article below that was published on April 4 …

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From April 4, 2022 …

By Kevin McPherson

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas sophomore big man and 2021-22 first team All SEC selection Jaylin Williams announced on Monday that he will enter the NBA Draft pool for underclassmen but will not hire an agent while leaving the door open for a return to the Hogs in ’22-23.

“I am announcing my intention to enter the 2022 NBA Draft process,” Williams said. “However, I will not be hiring an agent to keep my eligibility with the University of Arkansas intact. I look forward to learning from the upcoming process, going through the interviews, gathering feedback and building relationships with NBA coaches and front office personnel.

“My gratitude to Coach (Eric) Musselman and the staff goes beyond words for helping me be in this position. I will keep all my options open and, after going through the process and talking with my family, my support group and the Arkansas coaching staff, I will make an informed decision when the appropriate time comes.”

Williams (6-10 forward / center, native of Fort Smith) currently has 2022 mock NBA Draft projections ranging from late first round to mid-to-late second round. Draft analyst Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype and USA Today’s For the Win recently projected Williams to go 27th overall (late first round), while DraftExpress / ESPN recently slotted Williams as the 45th pick (mid-second round).

The entry deadline for underclassmen to declare is April 24, and Williams can participate in the NBA Draft Combine (May 16-22) if invited as well as conduct workouts with teams. The deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft is June 1.

Named to the ’21-22 SEC All Defensive team in addition to being named first team All SEC, Williams had a total of 16 double-doubles as he averaged 10.9 points, 9.8 rebounds (ranked 2nd in the SEC), 2.6 assists (ranked 20th in the SEC and tops among the league’s frontcourt players), 1.1 blocks (ranked 7th in the SEC), 1.3 steals (ranked tied for 20th in the SEC and was tops among league players 6-10 or taller), and team-high 54 charges drawn (led Division 1 basketball). He shot 46.1% from the field, including 23.9% from 3, and 72.9% from the free throw line. His 364 rebounds in ’21-22 established a school record for most rebounds in a single season.

Williams played in all 18 SEC games in ’21-22, averaging a double-double in league play with 13.6 points and 10.2 rebounds as he notched 11 SEC games with double-figures in both scoring and rebounding. Williams’ 183 rebounds in league games also established a school single-season record.

In his two seasons at Arkansas, Williams was a key cog in Hog squads that reached back-to-back NCAA Tournament Elite Eights. He recorded a double-double in each of the team’s four NCAAT games in ’21-22 as he was named to the NCAAT West Region all tournament team.

Should he return to Arkansas, Williams will gain an extra year of eligibility due to the NCAA’s covid-19 exception granted to all D1 players, meaning he still has three seasons to play in college.