UConn's Williams will enter draft, hire agent

STORRS, Conn. -- Connecticut point guard Marcus Williams said Tuesday he will forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the NBA draft.

The 6-foot-3 Williams is considered one of the nation's top playmakers. He appeared in 70 games at UConn, starting 51 and averaging nine points and 7.3 assists.

Williams is the third underclassman to announce he will leave UConn early this year, joining junior forward Josh Boone and sophomore swingman Rudy Gay. Boone is the only one of the three who has said he won't hire an agent, allowing him to possibly return to school next season. He has until June 18 to withdraw from the draft.

Williams said he plans to hire an agent soon.

"I just want to get to the next level and hopefully provide for my team," Williams said.

Williams missed most of the 2003-04 national championship season because of poor grades and was suspended from the team for the first half of the 2005-06 season after being charged with trying to sell laptop computers stolen from campus dorm rooms.

He was eventually granted a special form of probation for first-time offenders and will have his criminal records erased if he successfully completes 18 months of probation.

Williams said he tried to turn that experience into something positive.

"I think it made me grow up a lot faster than I wanted to, but I needed it," he said.

Coach Jim Calhoun praised Williams for accepting responsibility for his actions and handling the taunts of opposing fans.

"I just believe 100 percent in Marcus Williams, and he's reinforced that belief every step of the way," Calhoun said.

Williams' father, Kelly, said the decision was the culmination of years of hope, hard work and close family bonds.

"Every parent wants this for your kid. I'm not going to lie, but you always want to be realistic about whether it can actually happen," he said. "It's a good day for all of us, a really good day."