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Marvin Williams, 'Playing for Carolina Was The Most Fun I Had; I Didn't Want to Leave'

Former Tar Heel Marvin Williams dives into his decision to attend college and why leaving UNC was hard.
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Being a 'one and done' is a tough decision. At 18/19 years old, you're making one the most difficult choices in your life, and it affects more than just you. It's not easy bearing that weight on your back, but when it comes to giving your family a better life, you bite the bullet.

Marvin Williams' career at UNC was more than just "luck"; he was the spark that motivated those around him to better. Williams knew he wanted to go to college; going straight to the NBA wasn't a dream for him. During his career at UNC, Williams played in all 36 games but didn't start; he averaged, 11.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, with 51% FG. He made the All ACC Freshman team and crowned Rookie of the Year of the 2004-2005 season.

That season was an emotional roller coaster for the squad as they knew this was the year to give everything they had. Teammate and senior at the time, Jawad Williams, said it was 'championship or nothing' for the team. After going 8-20 just three years prior and finding their identity with a new coach, this team wasn't going to accept anything less than what they've been fighting so hard for.  

Under the direction of Roy Williams, Williams took the plunge into the big leagues; He was Williams' first 'one and done.' He was the second overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. Williams left along with six other Tar Heels, Jawad Williams, Jackie Manuel, Melvin Scott, Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton, and Sean May.

Williams spoke on the podcast 'The Player and The Fan' about the difficult decision on leaving UNC, playing for Williams, and why he went to college instead of going straight to the NBA.

Quierra Luck: What was it like playing for Carolina?

Marvin Williams: Yeah. It was a blessing. It was the most fun I've ever had playing basketball, ever in my life. From the moment I stepped on campus to the moment I left, it was the most fun I've ever had playing basketball. Growing up, I watched Carolina. My dad is from North Carolina, and I used to watch Coach Smith instructional videos in his living room, and I used to wear North Carolina sweatsuits and jackets. And so I was kind of raised on Carolina, but I didn't truly understand it until I came down here. So just having that opportunity was so special for me. And I'm so thankful for it. But it was the most fun I'd ever had, still to this day.

David Noel III: What made you play college basketball versus going straight pro?

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Marvin Williams: I wanted to go to college, period. My class, my high school class, 2004, I think we had maybe eight to ten guys get drafted out of high school. It was probably close to a record, I bet. And obviously, I had an opportunity, I guess, to maybe make that jump. But that wasn't something that I was interested in. I made it very clear that I wanted to go to college. School was something that I wanted to experience. It just always seemed so fun to me. So jumping straight from high school to the NBA wasn't something that was on my mind at all. I remember, too, I was 16 or 17. I was 17 when I got to college, so I wasn't ready for that.

Quierra Luck: What was going through your mind, and what was your conversation with Coach Williams on your decision?

Marvin Williams: It was hard. It was really, really hard because I didn't want to leave. I didn't want to leave. I actually had dinner with Coach and my dad one night, and Coach Williams looked me dead in the face, and he told me, he said that he wants me to stay here as long as I want to stay here. But if I was his kid, he'd be telling me that I should leave. And when he told me that, I felt like I had to do it. It was almost like he thought that's what was best for me. Of course, if he would have told me to stay and play four years, I would have stayed and played four years. I would have probably found a way to try to get a fifth year there if I could have. Whatever he told me that I should do is what I was always going to do. And when he told my dad and me that he felt like I should leave, I felt like that's what we needed to do.

To hear the full interview, please listen to the podcast here,

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