Just weeks ago, Arizona was seen as an almost surefire casualty of the FBI’s investigation into amateur basketball and the NCAA’s rules and regulations regarding amateurism and recruiting. While there was never a mooted death penalty, the sudden loss of all three of the program’s key incoming recruits — four star guards Jahvon Quinerly and Brandon Williams and forward Shareef O’Neal — felt like death knell enough.
Since then, O’Neal has committed to UCLA and Quinerly to Villanova, but Williams remained on the market. That all changed Saturday, when the California native announced his commitment at the BallisLife All-American Game, to Arizona … again.
The decision-making calculus is a clear one, even if it does invite some second guessing: Williams picked Arizona the first time because he was happiest there, so when the FBI cleared the Wildcats and head coach Sean Miller, he felt emboldened to move back into the fold.
College basketball isn’t often a land of extreme loyalty, but Williams deserves plenty of credit for sticking with his original guns. The real question is why he was driven to remain loyal to a program that could find itself on the skids eight months from now.
For his part, here’s what Williams had to say about his decision:
“The whole thing with me was being extremely happy with a program where I know I’m most comfortable with and where I know my heart first led me,” Williams said during his announcement, per the Arizona Daily Star. “That was with coach Miller and the University of Arizona.”
To its credit, it’s clear that the way Arizona handled Williams’ initial decommitment played a critical role in bringing him back into the fold.
“I think me and my family have been patient and that was our motto, to be patient and resilient with how we handle things,” Williams told 247 Sports.
“We talked to the coaching staff a few days before I decommitted so I had a few days to look in the mirror and see if I wanted to do it or not. All the love I got from the UA family was tremendous but I need to see my options.”