Charlotte Hornets

Texas A&M’s Robert Williams may be a ‘sponge’ for coaching, but is he a fit for Hornets?

Texas A&M’s Robert Williams had a pre-draft workout with the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday. Williams, a 6-foot-9 center/forward, averaged 10.4 points and 9.2 rebounds as a sophomore last season.
Texas A&M’s Robert Williams had a pre-draft workout with the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday. Williams, a 6-foot-9 center/forward, averaged 10.4 points and 9.2 rebounds as a sophomore last season. Joshua Komer

Texas A&M’s Robert Williams might be out of college, but he constantly reminds himself he isn’t done being a student.

Williams, a long-armed 6-foot-9 forward-center, turned pro following his sophomore season, when he averaged 10.4 points and 9.2 rebounds. It’s not entirely clear which position best fits his size and skill at the NBA level, and that doesn’t worry him.

He likes that he’s still learning his craft.

“Just soaking up all the information they were giving me,” Williams said of the pre-draft workout he had with the Charlotte Hornets Saturday morning at Spectrum Center.

Williams would be a candidate for the Hornets’ 11th overall pick in the June 21 draft. Typical of possible lottery picks these days, Williams auditioned with just one other player Saturday (Wake Forest center Doral Moore), while four players of lesser status went through drills separately.

That doesn’t mean Williams sent out entitled signals. Kind of the opposite. He seemed intently interested, for instance, when Hornets coach James Borrego took him aside early in his workout for a few minutes of fine-tuning on a spin move to the rim.

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Texas A&M sophomore big man Robert Williams (right), who worked out with the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday at the Spectrum Center, could be a candidate for the Hornets’ 11 th overall pick in the June 21 NBA draft. Joshua Komer Joshua Komer

Williams, who had a similar workout Thursday in Chicago with the Bulls, says he’s already picked up a lot from NBA coaches, who are giving advice and correction even before the draft.

“Continue to be a sponge” for information, Williams said of his plan.

Williams is a defender first. He averaged 2.5 blocked shots in 61 college games. So far he’s nothing like a 3-point shooter (two makes in 30 attempts from the college line) so his future appears to be as an inside player.

But even so, he knows that will require defensive versatility. There’s additional emphasis in the NBA these days on players who can defend different positions when switching through pick-and-rolls. Think of the Finals, when Golden State point guard Stephen Curry would spend a couple of seconds guarding forward LeBron James, for instance.

Williams said he’s excited by the prospect of figuring all that out.

“Keep an open mind,” he said. “I might play a completely different role in the NBA than I did in college. There’s definitely room for improvement, as far as where you’d guard a high-level guard like a Curry, but I definitely feel like I can grasp the concept.”

A prerequisite to that is raising his conditioning for an NBA regular season more than twice as long as what he experienced in college.

“Definitely getting better is cardio,” Williams said of his top goal, “keeping my motor at 100 percent all the time.”

Rick Bonnell: , 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell

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