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Cincinnati Bearcats’ Keith Williams Declares for NBA Draft

Cincinnati junior Keith Williams will test the waters and received feedback from NBA execs

NCAA Basketball: Central Florida at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bearcats junior forward Keith Williams announced on Friday, via social media, his intentions to declare for the NBA Draft.

Williams was a perfect fit in first year head coach John Brannen’s system, and his numbers increased across the board. Williams was a key member of Mick Cronin’s 2017 recruiting class.

As a freshman, he played 33 games, averaging 10 minutes per game. In 2018-19, Williams took on a much larger role, following the departure of Jacob Evans. He started 32 (out of 35) games, scoring 9.9 ppg (second on team), 3.2 rpg (4th on team), 1.1 apg (5th on team).

His role increased this past season in Brannen’s free-flowing, up-tempo offense. Williams started 29 (out of 30) games, playing 28.8 mpg. His scoring went up to 12.6 ppg and rebounding increased to 4.6 rpg.

Will Keith return?

Williams’ declaration is not necessarily bad news. It’s a similar situation to that of Jarron Cumberland last summer. Cumberland declared for the draft after his junior season, hiring an agent, but declaring that he was leaving his options open. Jarron ultimately returned for his senior season, which I believe Williams will do too.

What’s the benefit of declaring?

By entering his name into the draft, Williams can solicit feedback from NBA teams, just as Cumberland did last year. This will allow Williams to gauge what NBA teams think about him and what areas he may need to improve on.

It’s also good exposure for Williams, to get the chance to talk to execs. And if he keeps his name in the draft pool, it serves as excellent exposure for Cincinnati as it shows potential recruits that guys could potentially leave early for the NBA, which is everyone’s dream.

Questions about the process

In this new landscape, thanks to COVID-19, the entire NBA Draft process is a huge question mark. When is the draft going to be? Will players be allowed to work out for teams?

Williams will get the chance to talk to execs, but he may not get the chance to show his true potential for them in private workouts. Williams is currently not listed on anyone’s draft board for 2020, so he will need every advantage and path to impress execs. Not having the ability to do workouts will certainly impact his potential decision.

With or without Williams

With or without Williams, the Bearcats 2020-21 lineup may look something like this

PG - Mika Adams-Woods, Mike Saunders
SG - Zach Harvey, Gabe Madsen
SF - Keith Williams OR Gabe Madsen?
PF - Mamadou Diarra, Tari Eason
C - Chris Vogt

If Williams does depart, it would mean 4 of Cincinnati’s top 5 scorers from 2019-20 will not return (Jarron Cumberland, Jaevin Cumberland, Trevon Scott, Williams). Chris Vogt (11 ppg) would be the only one to return.