Sixers must weigh risks on Sean Williams & 'Big Baby'

Posted: June 28, 2007

THIS IS ABOUT risk, and whether to take it. This is about Sean Williams, who was dismissed from the Boston College team after 15 games and a school-record 75 blocks in his junior season. This is about Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who at one point during his three seasons at Louisiana State weighed as much as 365 pounds.

"I think there have been guys that have had problems in college, but they've come to the pros and [progressed]," 76ers president and general manager Billy King said yesterday. "Guys do make mistakes, and guys do rebound from them."

King watched Williams and Davis work out in a foursome with Purdue forward Carl Landry and Virginia forward Jason Cain, the latter a courtesy visit for a former John Bartram High star who played on a Public League championship team in 2002-03. These were the final scheduled sessions before tonight's NBA draft in which the Sixers hold selections Nos. 12, 21 and 30 in the first round and No. 38 in the second round; King had mentioned the possibility of traveling to New York this morning to visit with another player or two, most notably Florida forward Joakim Noah, but now said that probably would not happen.

At the same time, King is continuing to try and move up from Nos. 12 and 21 and said he has several scenarios on the table. He insisted, though, that he would not be disappointed to remain at No. 12.

"Absolutely not," he said. "We'll get a good player there. You would move up to get a better player [or to increase the chances of getting a specifically targeted player]."

Sixers assistant coach Moses Malone observed a workout by Williams in Houston earlier in the week, but King believed that - given Williams' background - it was critical to have him go through the full private workout and interview process. Williams, who has had substance-abuse issues and was dropped from the Boston College team Jan. 17, has been training under the guidance of former Sixers coach/general manager John Lucas, a long-recovering addict.

"Sean doesn't have any real-life issues," Lucas told the Boston Globe. "There are other guys I've had here who have had real-life issues. He doesn't. His issue is, he just wants to smoke some weed sometime - and you can't. We're learning how to handle life issues without smoking weed to medicate. I would venture to say, he hasn't smoked any more weed than a lot of the other guys who are going to get drafted. The difference is, he got caught. Now, the question is, do you have an addiction? That's another issue. If it's worth it to you, if you have to have it, then you have an addiction, because look at what you've lost. If it's not worth it to you, then we're on our way. And I think he's more than on his way."

King has said repeatedly that character and baggage are huge factors in any decision to select a player. Yesterday, he termed a choice of Williams or Davis "a big risk." At the same time Williams' athleticism and potential remain very intriguing. Voices around the league view Williams as a first-round selection. Davis is seen as possibly a late first-rounder or, more likely, a second-round pick.

"[Williams does] unbelievable, freakish things athletically, the things he can do with the ball and then jump and run," King said.

Williams, who was a reserve during his first two college seasons, was soft-spoken and pleasant, but guarded in his meeting with reporters at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Of his past problems, he said "I try to leave that out of the media."

But given his background, he was asked, why should a team draft him?

"Because of what I bring on the court," he replied. "I've come a long way, working to make better decisions so I will be a productive player in the NBA, just working to make myself into the best person I can be and become a better player."

Later, he said: "They've got the background checks and everything. They've talked to everybody around me. Everybody just wants to talk to me now."

The Sixers, as they did with UCLA guard Arron Afflalo, wanted to talk to Davis a second time. Davis, though, came in with a hip pointer and suffered a mild sprain of his left ankle during his abbreviated workout; he left his first visit with a bruised elbow and a bloody nose. His weight has hovered around 290, and he said he hopes to play at 285.

"I don't think I did good the first one," said Davis, who scored 1,587 points in three seasons and led the Southeastern Conference in rebounding as a junior. "I was kind of shocked when they called me back. Hopefully, I could do a little better, but it didn't look like I did. I don't know."

King said "I think Glen feels he has his weight down and has a better mind-set of understanding. I think Sean understands that the things he did, there's a consequence."

Six shots

Carl Landry averaged 18.9 points and 7.3 rebounds in 34 games as a fifth-year senior, coming back from knee surgery late in 2004-05. "I knew I was going to get back," he said. "I didn't know when, but 2 years later I'm back and I feel better than I felt before [the injury]." . . . Jason Cain averaged 6.8 points and 6.3 rebounds as a senior. "I honestly didn't picture myself being here," he said. "It's definitely a dream come true to actually work out for the Sixers, get a chance . . . I thought they would [call], just because I'm a local guy." *

averaged 18.9 points and 7.3 rebounds in 34 games as a fifth-year senior, coming back from knee surgery late in 2004-05. "I knew I was going to get back," he said. "I didn't know when, but 2 years later I'm back and I feel better than I felt before [the injury]." . . . averaged 6.8 points and 6.3 rebounds as a senior. "I honestly didn't picture myself being here," he said. "It's definitely a dream come true to actually work out for the Sixers, get a chance . . . I thought they would [call], just because I'm a local guy." *

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