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VCU forward Vince Williams declares for NBA draft

VCU senior Vince Williams has decided to take his game to the next level.

The Toledo, Ohio native announced on Twitter on Thursday afternoon that he is declaring for the NBA draft.

“Today I’m excited to announce that I will be pursuing my dream by officially declaring for the NBA draft,” Williams said in the graphic he posted to Twitter Thursday. Williams also thanked VCU’s coaching staff and fans for supporting him, adding “you have welcomed me with open arms and have supported me the entire time. This has been a fun ride that I will always cherish.”

Recent rule changes allow college basketball players to declare for the NBA draft without foregoing their remaining eligibility, provided he follows guidelines including signing with specific agents. However, Williams’ statement all but confirms that the star forward is foregoing his extra year of eligibility granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Williams steadily improved throughout his VCU career, working his way into an everyday starting role while improving his overall game. Dubbed a Swiss Army Knife-type, the 6-6 forward did all things on the floor well, from shooting to rebounding to defense.

In his first two years with the Rams, Williams started just three games and played less than 20 minutes per game. Opportunities expanded with the departure of the class of 2020, and Williams capitalized by playing as the second option on the Bones Hyland-led 2020-21 team before taking over as the primary scoring threat last year.

Perhaps the greatest improvement in Williams’ game came from behind the arc. During his sophomore season, Williams shot 20% from 3-point range; as a junior, he improved that mark to 41.3%. Last season, Williams led VCU in 3-pointers made with 65.

Last season was a career year for Williams, who led the Rams in several major statistical categories. For the season, Williams averaged 14.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. He also secured a career-high in field goal percentage, shooting 47.7% from the floor.

Williams also excelled on the defensive end in an often-underrated part of his game. Last season, Williams ranked seventh in the A-10 in steals per game with 1.6 and 13th in blocks with 32 total.

For his efforts, Williams was named to the All-Atlantic 10 First Team in 2022. During his junior season, Williams was named to the All-A-10 Third Team.

Williams ended his collegiate career on a high note during VCU’s appearance in the National Invitational Tournament. In the first round, Williams secured a double-double with 17 points and a career-high-tying 11 rebounds as VCU defeated Princeton at the Siegel Center. On the road against Wake Forest, Williams scored a career-high 27 points in an 80-74 loss that ended VCU’s season.

In recent weeks, Williams has generated buzz as a potential sleeper pick in this summer’s NBA draft. ESPN ranks Williams 92nd on its “best available” prospect list, while the “Big Board” ranks Williams 61st.

Should Williams be drafted, he would become the 21st player in program history selected in the NBA draft, with most coming when the draft contained more than the current 60 picks. He would join former teammate Bones Hyland – who was selected in the first round by the Denver Nuggets last year – as the only active Rams in the NBA. In all, 11 former VCU players have touched the floor in an NBA game.

Williams’ confirmation of his departure answers one of the biggest pending VCU roster questions that remained. As of April 7, the Rams have two scholarships available for the 2022-23 season. Williams’ decision did not impact the number of available scholarships, as players using their extra COVID-19 eligibility year do not count against the scholarship limit.

VCU filled one of its three open scholarships last weekend with the transfer of former Michigan guard Zeb Jackson.