Sports

Bremerton's Williams: 'I'm home'

He looks and sounds a little like Chris Rock and he plays a lot like a young Kevin Garnett, who happens to be his favorite player.

Needless to say, Bremerton’s Marvin Williams has a lot going for him.

And Bremerton basketball fans are going to be able to follow his development closely because this well-grounded 6-foot-7 sophomore, who seems destined to become the most highly recruited athlete in West Sound history, confirmed this week that he has no intentions of leaving for another school.

“What?” said a smiling Williams during a break at school earlier this week when confronted with the rumors that he would be playing basketball next winter at either Garfield, O’Dea or South Kitsap. “I never heard this. This is news to my ears.”

Williams, wearing a sky-blue North Carolina football jersey with a silver basketball necklace hanging from his neck, said he never considered leaving Bremerton.

“Oh no,” he said. “I’m home.”

Those transfer rumors were also news to Marvin Williams Sr., who lives in Port Orchard, and to Marvin’s mother, Andrea Gittens, who lives in Bremerton. Both said, following Bremerton’s season-ending loss against Mount Tahoma in the West Central District 4A Tournament at Capital High, their son was comfortable where he was at.

“It was good to see the team have some success at the end,” said Marvin Sr. “That was nice. He likes (coach) Casey (Lindberg) and the guys on the team. I don’t want to move him and make him unhappy. It would make his mother unhappy, too.”

Marvin Jr. felt the season could have gone better, but said he had no regrets about opting to stay in Bremerton instead of commuting to O’Dea in Seattle. That’s a decision, he admitted, that he wrestled with until late last summer.

“It was a real tough decision,” he said. “I talked to my family and prayed a lot. That’s basically what happened. And I ended up here.”

He won’t let friends on either side of the water — Williams plays for the Seattle Rotary select team during the spring and summer — influence his decision.

“Friends are not going to give you a scholarship,” he said. “So, you know what I’m saying. This is what I wanted to do.”

The Bremerton-born Williams, who won’t turn 16 until June 19, has received an invitation to the prestigious adidas ABCD camp, which takes place in early July on the campus of Farleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J. The camp, a showcase for college coaches, annually draws the top 200 schoolboy basketball players in the country.

North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Southern Cal and Oregon State are among the colleges that have already sent letters or watched Williams, either during the summer tournament-circuit or in high school this year.

“The thing will explode at this ABCD camp,” Marvin Sr. said. “That’s where you find out how good you are.”

Young Marvin, who said he carries a 3.0 grade point average, seems to be taking it all in stride.

“I just want to lift weights and get stronger and quicker,” said the player who averaged 17.2 points and 11 rebounds during the regular season and 22 points and 12 rebounds in the playoffs. “Just keep everything going. You can always improve.”

Father and son work on drills together regularly, often on the outdoor court at Lions Park.

“My Dad, he’s the one who takes me out and works on everything, and Mom, she’s the one who makes me do it,” he said. “She stays on me.”

Marvin Willliams Sr., a former all-Navy player, grew up playing against Michael Jordan on the playgrounds in his hometown of Wallace, N.C.. “(Jordan’s) uncle and grandmother lived in my hometown and Michael came on weekends,” he said. “We’d hang out and go to church on Sundays. My Mom and Dad still stay in touch with his family.”

So you can see why young Marvin’s decked out in Carolina garb.

“Carolina’s always been my favorite school. I’ve watched them since I was little, but offers are open, man,” Marvin, Jr. said. “I’m just going to be patient.”

Marvin Sr. thinks his son will be more aggressive next year.

“It’s like two different people,” he said of the young Marvin when he’s playing against the likes of Roderick and Loderick Stewart of Rainier Beach and other top players in the summer. “He plays like he’s at a college level. Here, he’s kind of in the middle. I think he’s very sensitive to his friends. He doesn’t want to rock the boat, especially his first year in high school.

“I’ve talked to him about being a little passive. Hopefully (Lindberg) will stay on him, push him a little more next year. Marvin needs to average 24-25 (points) a game. If he’s not doing that, he’s sluffing. That’s my opinion.”

Lindberg was criticized by fans for not posting Williams down low, where he could take advantage of his size, long arms and jumping ability.

“Did Magic Johnson’s high school coach post Magic Johnson down low all the time?” said Lindberg following a playoff victory that got the Knights into the district tournament. “Did Kevin Garnett’s coach post Kevin Garnett down low all the time?”

Bremerton assistant Aaron Leavell said, “You put him inside and people start saying, ‘Why don’t you put him outside?’ You get it from both sides.”

That’s not to say Willilams is going to turn out to be a Magic or a Garnett, but the kid’s clearly special.

“I haven’t seen a sophomore around here like him in the 10 years I’ve been here,” said former Olympic College coach Barry Janusch. “I haven’t seen a player like him around here. First, he’s a great athlete. And to me as a coach, he just understands the game so well. He can handle it and he’s not a selfish player. In fact, he probably looks to pass a little more than you want him to, Janusch said.

“It’s all about work ethic where he’ll end up. If he really dedicates himself. If he can shoot it well enough to where you’ve got to guard him and he gets a little more explosive off the dribble, oh my gosh, he’ll be fun to watch.”

For what it’s worth, Williams prefers playing small forward.

“That’s what I like,” he said. “At small forward you get to do a little bit of everything.”

If there was a down side to this season, Williams said it was losing.

“That was the most frustrating part,” he said. “Losing some of those games we could have won. I don’t like to lose.”

An elbow injury, one he picked up during a loose ball drill, also frustrated him.

“Not because I got hurt, but because I missed (two) games,” he said. “I was mad about that.”

The best part of the season?

“The people,” he said without hesitation. “Getting to know everybody as the season went on. They were such cool people, man. Good people. The coaches, players. They’re good people, man.”

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