Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Memphis coach Josh Pastner finally landed a big fish.
Latavious Williams, a 6-foot-8 combo forward out of Humble (TX) Christian Life Center who averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds, committed to the Tigers Tuesday, choosing them over Georgetown, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Florida International.
“I went home this weekend and made [the decision Monday],” Williams said by phone. “I have a real good relationship with Coach Pastner.”
Williams lives in Starkville, Miss., just two hours from Memphis, and cited that as a deciding factor as well.
“I decided it was better for my family to come to the games,” he said. “My family is back home in Mississippi.”
Williams said he believes he will qualify academically.
“I made a 17 on my ACT and I need a 2.5 GPA. Coach Carlos said I’m good,” he said.
Carlos Wilson, Williams’ coach at Humble Christian, concurred.
“He got his ACT scores back and now we’re just waiting on his GPA to see if the ACT and the GPA match up,” Wilson said. “But I believe he’s going to make it.”
Because the NCAA late signing deadline passed on May 20, Williams did not sign a National Letter of Intent, but instead signed scholarship papers that bind the school to him but not vice versa.
Pastner has watched point guards Eric Bledsoe and John Wall both choose Kentucky over Memphis; DeMarcus Cousins bail on an oral commitment to Memphis in favor of Kentucky; and Darnell Dodson depart to play for John Calipari’s new teamas well.
Now Memphis has a five-star wing to build around for the future. Wilson said Williams can play multiple positions at the next level and could have a major impact.
“I see Latavious right now as the Shawn Marion type of guy, the Stacey Augmon type,” Wilson said. “He can put up big man’s rebounding numbers but he’s an ultra-athletic slasher from the wing spots. And he can also shoot it. He’’s a very versatile basketball player. The thing that makes him special in my eyes is that it doesn’t matter to him.
“If it takes him playing the four spot to win the game, he’ll play the four. If you need his length out on the perimeter, he’ll do it. If you need for him to guard the center, he’ll do it and won’t complain.
“He’s just your classic basketball player.”
Memphis could also land 6-7 wing Noel Johnson, who just got his release from Southern Cal, and is still in the mix for Brooklyn Lincoln wing Lance Stephenson as well, and Williams would like Lance to join him in Conference USA.
“He needs to go to Memphis,” Williams said of the 6-foot-5 Stephenson, the all-time leading scorer in New York State history.
Stephenson is still involved in a sexual assault case in Brooklyn that was adjourned until June 29. He may wait until after the case is resolved to pick a school.
Arizona, Memphis and Maryland are in the mix.
“Latavious wants to win a national championship and a Conference USA title and you need good players to do that,” Wilson said. “I’m sure if he and Lance have a chance to conversate about it, Latavious would try and recruit Lance.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.