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Thursday's Workouts - Marcus Williams Takes Center Stage

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MARCUS WILLIAMS:
Who is he? 6-3 Junior point guard from UCONN.

Last Year: Averaged 12.3 points, 8.6 assists, 3.9 rebounds and .9 steals per game for the Huskies. All-time assist per game leader in the history of the BIG EAST Conference. Earned a spot on the NCAA Washington, D.C. Regional All-Tournament team and All Big East Second Team.

What Can He Do? Simply put, Williams is the premier point guard prospect in the draft right now. He has a true "pass-first" mentality and is an exceptional floor general. While not a super quick penetrator, Williams first step is decent and as a left-handed player, has the ball handling skills to get past defenders. He is not without his flaws however. Many scouts worry that he's not athletic enough to guard the NBA's faster guards and his offensive game was rather one dimensional in college. Off the court of course there will also be lingering concerns about his character to a certain degree stemming from last summer's incident in which Williams and UCONN teammate AJ Price were arrested and charged with the theft of school laptops.

The Bottom Line: Williams has been compared by many scouts and league reps to Andre Miller and with good reason. Both are built from a similar mould, are great leaders on the court, and haven't been known as great shooters. However Williams is more of a pass-first guard than Miller and from the sounds of things, has been working ardently since season's end to improve his shooting. Williams has also like Miller been plagued by "physique critiques" as neither player are the "fastest guys on the court." Both ARE extremely quick with the ball and above all else this is imperative for the point guard spot.

JERMAINE ANDERSON:
Who is he?
6-2 Senior guard from Fordham.

Last Year and Previously in Career: Averaged 15.6 points, 3.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and .7 steals per game for the Rams. One of the most improved players in the Atlantic 10 in 2004, member of 2004 Canadian Senior National Team, traveling to China to participate in the Four Nations Tournament and voted to Atlantic 10 All-Conference Second Team.

What Can He Do? Anderson, along with UCONN's Denham Brown, have long been considered the top basketball prospects in Canada. Anderson does not have Brown's scoring touch but he is no slouch himself. Possessing good quickness and athletic ability, Anderson played both guard spots for the Rams and was one of the NCAA's best three-point shooters. The knock on Anderson is the same as many guards his size. Without huge assist numbers and point guard instincts, can he make it in a league filled with 6-6 shooting guards?

The Bottom Line: Anderson is a local product who played his high school career at the famed Eastern Commerce leading them to five tournament titles. But don't think this was simply a goodwill workout for the Fordham product. Anderson has the quickness and athletic ability to play in the NBA as was evidenced by his workout on Thursday. The question however will be which position he'll be able to play in order to stick in the league. At 6-2 he'll need to show enough court vision to convince teams he can play the point or enough scoring and quickness to make-up for his lack of height when playing the 2-spot.

Workout Summary: This workout was supposed to include big men Terrence Dials from Ohio State and Paul Davis from Michigan State however in the end it was only the two guards who battled it out. The reports from this workout were quite interesting as by all accounts it seems that Anderson more than held his own against Williams using his speed and quickness against the more touted UConn product. It's important to keep in mind though that it is really Williams' court-vision and point guard skills that the Raptors are interested in, something that's not always so apparent in workouts such as these. No doubt Colangelo and co. have watched endless game tape footage of Williams which will factor into their decision regarding the option to select him.

Marcus Williams is one of the players I'm most interested in seeing in a Raptors' uniform next season. The Raptors have a need for a pass-first point guard who can create for his teammates both with pin-point passes and lobs on the fast-break and Williams definitely fits the bill. Based on this alone he's an intriguing prospect for Toronto come draft time. However for Colangelo to feel that he warrants as high a selection as Toronto may have, I feel Williams have to satisfy some concerns. No, I do not think that off-court issues will be a factor in his selection, I believe those are in the past. But I believe that Williams needs to show he can consistently hit the open jump-shot and defend faster guards, otherwise he might as well be Jose Calderon 2.0.

FRANCHISE