Marcus Williams to enter NCAA Transfer Portal
LARAMIE -- Well, this isn't ideal.
Last season's unanimous Mountain West Freshman of the Year, Marcus Williams, is entering the NCAA Transfer Portal. That news was confirmed by a prepared statement from Wyoming head coach Jeff Linder Tuesday afternoon.
It was short and sweet, too.
"We thank Marcus for his contributions to our program and we wish him well in the future,” Linder said.
Williams is the second Cowboy in the last three weeks to enter the portal, joining sophomore guard Kwane Marble II, who signed with Loyola Marymount at the end of March.
In his lone season in Laramie, the Houston-area product led the Cowboys' offensive attack, averaging 14.8 points per game. He was also the team's leader in steals. Williams also shot better than 45% from the field in his 24 starts.
Those numbers also earned him consideration for National Freshman Player of the Year, where he joined 30 other players from around the nation who received that distinction.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound point guard would've made 25 starts last winter, but was benched by Linder before the Jan. 13 game against Boise State inside the Arena-Auditorium. Effort on the defensive end was the culprit, according to Linder. In the regular-season finale -- a home win over UNLV -- Williams played just 13 minutes against the Rebels, netting four points. That was a season low for the true freshman.
Postgame, Linder said Williams' early offensive production was "a little bit of fool's gold" because of the quality of opponents during the Cowboys' seven-game non-conference schedule.
"I knew, and the coaching staff knew, as we made our way into conference play off of what he had done in non-con that he's going to be at the top of everybody's scouting report," Linder said. "I do think that's where he's tailed off a little bit here late. The difference between him and every freshman in our league -- and there's some good freshmen -- but they're not at the top of the scouting report for the other opponent, like Marcus Williams is. So, Marcus is getting the other team's full attention."
Williams had double-digit outings in his first 15 games in a Wyoming uniform. In four of his last eight regular-season games, he failed to do that. That changed in the Mountain West Tournament when Williams scored 15 in an opening-round rout of San Jose State and added a dozen in a quarterfinals loss to eventual league champion, San Diego State.
Linder said numerous times throughout the season that he was holding Williams to a "higher standard."
That tough love was on full display just 48 hours before tipoff at the MW Tournament in Las Vegas.
"It's my job is to prepare him to be a first-team all-league guy on a winning team, in which also, if you're that, now you're in the running for the MVP of the league," Linder said. "So, unfortunately for him, the way he's come on, you know, the expectations have gone up. Whether it's right or wrong -- sometimes he probably doesn't like it -- I hold him to a standard that in my opinion is going to allow him to be an MVP-type candidate one day and not just the freshman of the year on a team that finished in eighth place."
Before Linder inked with UW in March of 2020, Williams was a verbal commit to play for him at Northern Colorado in Greeley. Obviously overlooked out of Dickinson High School, Stephen F Austin, Sam Houston State and North Texas were the only other schools to offer Williams, despite being a three-star recruit and ranking the No. 14 overall player in the state, according to Texas Hoops.
Williams averaged 21.4 points per game as a senior and helped lead the Gators to the Final Four of the 6A State Tournament, the highest classification in the Lone Star State.
Players who enter the NCAA Transfer Portal can remove their name and return to their former school.
Linder and Co. now have two available scholarships entering the 2021-22 campaign.