Marvin following in Jordan's footsteps

In the end his heart won out.

After months of speculation, Bremerton’s hoops wonderboy, Marvin Williams, decided he will attend the University of North Carolina to play basketball after his senior year of high school.

As a junior at Bremerton High with a 23 points per game scoring average, Williams became one of the most sought after recruits in the state.

College coaches, such as Lorenzo Romar from the University of Washington and Missouri’s Quinn Snyder, regularly perched in the stands during Bremerton’s practices and games, watching Williams pop three pointers and slam down dunks.

Before his junior year began, the 6-foot-9 Williams narrowed his college picks down to six schools: Washington, Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Oregon and North Carolina.

Last month he whittled his choice to three: Washington, Arizona and North Carolina.

Williams chose his favorite holiday, the Fourth of July, as the date of a press conference to announce his commitment to attend UNC.

The conference was held at the Bremerton High School gym. About 100 people sat in the stands waiting for him to announce his choice. A host of television stations had planted mics in front of him for the big news.

In order to complete his commitment to North Carolina, he must make a written commitment to the school this November when the signing season begins.

He has been offered a full-ride athletic scholarship.

Williams said one of the big factors in this decision was new UNC coach Roy Williams, who visited Kitsap County several times during the last basketball season while he was still the coach at Kansas. When the new Heels coach found out the news, he dropped the phone and screamed with joy.

“He’s a great guy,” Williams said. “Hopefully I’m going to get to know him better.”

The University of Washington finished runner-up in the Williams race.

“It was tough. A lot of people wanted me to stay home, a lot of people wanted me to leave and I listened to all of that. But I had to do what was best for me and at this point I think leaving is best,” Williams said.

Williams’ father, Marvin Sr., is from North Carolina and is planning on moving back with his son, although he will be about an hour and a half away from UNC.

“For me it was a big deal for him to get into college,” Marvin Sr. said. “I’m very proud of him.”

Marvin Sr. is from Wallace, N.C. where when he was younger he played basketball against UNC alum Michael Jordan on the playground. He said he was glad his son picked UNC because now his grandfather will get to see him play.

William’s little brother Demetrius Gittens, 15, who is just starting to play basketball, said he was going to miss his brother, who has been helping him learn the game.

“I think it’s great,” Gittens said. “Not many people get the opportunity to pick their school.”

Williams’ teammates also said they were proud of him and excited that he came from BHS.

“I’m so proud of him,” said Ian Mateikat. “It’s really good for him, it’s good for our school and it’s good for Bremerton.”

Mateikat has been playing basketball with Williams for three years, but they have been friends since they were elementary kids.

Williams said he is excited about his last year at BHS and that he will still be focusing on improving as a player.

Williams said the most difficult part about moving will be leaving his mom and brothers who live in Bremerton.

“It’s tough. It’s going to be hard to leave,” Williams said. “This is my home.”

— Christopher Mulally contributed to this story.

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