By Ells Boone
Freshman forward Ziaire Williams announced on Wednesday morning his much-anticipated decision to declare for the 2021 NBA Draft, marking the end of his playing days on the Farm after one season.
A 6-foot-8 forward, Williams came to Stanford with much fanfare as the highest rated recruit in the history of the program, ranked the No. 6 player in the country by the 247sports Composite. He chose the Cardinal in April of 2020 over his other finalists Arizona, North Carolina and USC.
Given the hype, Williams was expected to be a focal point of Stanford’s offense this past season along with senior forward Oscar da Silva. However, his season was an inconsistent one, marked by two long absences due to deaths in his family. The Lancaster, Calif. native would finish the season with averages of 10.7 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game and 2.2 assists per game in 20 games played.
Williams’s best performance in the Cardinal uniform was in his very first game, against Alabama in the Maui Invitational. That night he scored 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field and grabbed eight rebounds, displaying an array of moves that showed just why he was considered one of the top draft prospects. Another highlight was his triple-double against Washington on Jan. 7, showcasing his full talent with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
In recent mock drafts, Williams appears anywhere from late lottery to the end of the first round. His shot-making ability is enticing to scouts and NBA teams, but the knock on him is his weight and concerns about his ability to finish through contact. Nevertheless, he will continue the recent trend of Cardinal draft picks, following in the footsteps of Tyrell Terry and KZ Okpala.
This is the third loss in the previous two weeks for Stanford men’s basketball as head coach Jerod Haase looks to get ready for the 2021/22 season. Last week, da Silva announced his decision to end his Cardinal career and sign with a professional team in Germany to prepare for the NBA Draft. Earlier this week, associate head coach Jeff Wulbrun was named the head coach at the University of Denver. Wulbrun had been working under Haase for the past nine years at both Stanford and UAB.
It remains to be seen what senior guard Daejon Davis will decide to do. The NCAA gave every student-athlete an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and so it is possible that the Seattle, Wash. native could return for a fifth season.