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Small School Flavor Coming to OKC with Jalen Williams

Jalen Williams name bellowed around the Barclay's Center earlier than some expected, but when it did get called at pick No. 12 it made history.

Top tier prospects come from all different sizes of schools.

For the Trail Blazers they found Damian Lillard from Weber State in 2012, and in 2022 Oklahoma City selected Jalen Williams from Santa Clara with the 12th pick.

While those two share the fact they are guards, and from non-Power 5 schools, they are quite different. Lillard is a multiple time All-Star and one of the better guards in the NBA, and Williams is an unproven talent with a lot of questions surrounding his NBA abilities.

Williams is originally from Gilbert, Arizona where he attended Perry High School. As a prospect Williams was a 3-star recruit who ranked as the 242nd prospect in the 2019 class. Williams had no Power 5 offers when he enrolled at Santa Clara.

Williams spent three seasons at Santa Clara rising into a high level prospect who ended up a lottery pick. The selection was a shock to some. To most Williams was projected around the No. 20 pick. He ended up in Oklahoma City with the Thunder’s third lottery selection.

Williams does have a sneaky high ceiling coming out of Santa Clara where he was an elite level scorer notching 18 points per game. His efficiency was high-level as well as a guard shot better than 51% and shot nearly 40% from 3-point range.

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Williams rose up draft boards under the radar with his scoring and passing abilities. Williams will also have the chance to develop behind the Thunder’s current guards, including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort and Tre Mann. Having Williams also gives the Thunder flexibility with Dort’s contract, if the two sides cannot strike a deal.

Williams 18, four and four clip was enough for the Thunder to take the risk and select the young guard. Williams has fought hard and grinded for this moment, and when his name was called, he fought back the emotions to remain sturdy and receive his hat and handshake with Adam Silver.

“It’s kind of a surreal moment and it’s hard to really put into words,” Williams said.

Williams is the first prospect from Santa Clara to be drafted since Steve Nash was selected 15th in 1996. He now begins his journey with what has the chance to be a long NBA career in front of him with a Thunder team looking to take the next step toward returning to contention. 

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