Welcome to Marvins world

Marvin Williams - Photo by Jesse Beals
Marvin Williams
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

In some ways, Marvin Williams

is an ordinary — very tall — high school kid.

He gets up at 6:17 a.m., pulls on his clothes, and drops his mom off at the ferry terminal. Then it’s off for the school day. Between the last bell at Bremerton High and the basketball team’s rigorous 5:30 p.m. practice, Williams zips home with his friend Phil Houston to play the video game John Madden Football.

“I’m a Maddenologist, baby,” Williams joked last week.

Although he was supposed to be in study hall with his team under the guidance of coach Casey Lindberg, he took time to talk about his day-to-day life, and the pressure of being ranked one of the best high school basketball players to ever set foot in Washington state.

But don’t worry, Williams isn’t sweating anything.

He doesn’t even spend any time thinking about college or the NBA.

At 6-foot-9 and a muscular 225 pounds, Williams is the easiest player to spot on the Bremerton team. When he walks into a room, he’s the star. At every high school game last year that the Knights played, Marvin alone brought in a huge share of the audience.

It wasn’t his attitude that garnered the attention. Its his lay-ups, dunks and three pointers. His swats and his occassional incredible hulk pose.

Williams is actually a humble young man who prefers not to have the attention placed on himself.

Even though he just signed with the University of North Carolina on a full ride and received thousands of scholarship offers all throughout the country, Williams won’t hesitate to pass the ball to a teammate if they are open.

Lindberg is now penalizing Williams on the court whenever he doesn’t take control.

Every time Williams passes when he has a chance to shoot, he has to get down on the ground and do 40 push-ups.

“I’ve never made a personal goal in my life,” Williams said. “My goal is to win.”

During the summer between his sophomore and junior year, coach Lindberg said he received 8-12 calls at his house per day asking questions about Marvin from college recruiters.

Once Williams made his decision on July 4 to join Roy Williams’ Tar Heels, the calls have stopped, and the pressure is off the star’s shoulders.

“It is definitely more relaxed now,” he said. No one is calling asking where I am going to go or what I am going to do.”

Many of Williams’ teammates are his friends. They play Madden, sit around listening to Jay-Z or Tupac and stay up late on weekends with him.

“He’s one of those dudes you really like to be around,” said Jacquan McWhorter, a guard on the team. “He can be funny too. He will bring up things from the past.”

McWhorter calls Williams a “true leader” on the court.

“He gets everybody going and he knows the game,” he said.

After the basketball season last year, Williams shocked many of his friends by knocking on Bremerton’s soccer coach Lance McCoy’s door. He wanted to do something different, something fun.

“He came to soccer as a novice, but he came with an appreciation that any player can make a difference,” said McCoy. “The thing that Marvin brings to any sport is pure athleticism and a willingness to work hard.”

Marvin subbed in as goalie a couple times throughout the season, and the only trouble McCoy had was finding size 16 soccer cleats.

“I think that anything they say about him that is hype — he lives up to it,” said Knights basketball forward Josh Johnson.

Added McCoy, “He’ll always be the real deal. He’ll always be humble. Success will not ruin him.”

Williams, who maintains a 3.2 grade point average and has grown an inch and gained 10 pounds since last season, is in the best shape of his life.

“All fall Marvin said, ‘Coach, you are not going to get me this year,’ ” Lindberg said about Williams. Lindberg’s practices are known for their relentless running.

Before he decided where he would go to school, Williams was ranked in the top 10 recruits by National Recruiting yearbook.

He spent about 40 hours decorating his room with recruitment letters from all over the country. He has now taken them all off the walls.

Over the summer, Lindberg’s wife took Williams and a few teammates out on Saturday mornings to train on the Bremerton track.

This year, coach Lindberg says Williams has changed and he is willing to take on the fierce leadership role for the team that he has only shown glimpses of before.

“It’s his mentality,” Lindberg said. “He is willing to take over the game, to take control of the floor, to be more selfish.”

This season may be considered a breakthrough season for Williams. It’s his senior year. His last chance in a high school uniform to help the Knights make it into the state tournament. He’s fired up just like his teammates.

“Don’t ever give up and don’t let anybody tell you what to do,” Williams said.

That’s the advice he would give to anyone who wants to follow in his footsteps.

“There were people that said I would never get looked at in Bremerton. People wanted me to go to Seattle, to O’Dea. But I don’t regret it one bit.”

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