KAPALKO: BC’s Williams blocks own shot

Jamie Kapalko

Boston College junior center Sean Williams is the nation’s third-leading shot-blocker. This season, he has also averaged 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, but his blocking is what has earned him national recognition. He has blocked 14 shots in a single game – two blocks shy of the NCAA record, and his skills have attracted attention from the NBA.

“That’s not a talent you’re going to find in too many players this or any other year,” one NBA general manager remarked.

A week ago, Williams was dismissed from the team by Head Coach Al Skinner for an unspecified disciplinary infraction. He had been previously suspended after being arrested for marijuana possession, and rumor has it that his dismal grades have required multiple interventions by Skinner. After the latest incident, the school decided that Williams did not deserve another chance.

Before this, Williams had a shot at a successful college career that could have included NCAA records. Hey, Sean? You’re not supposed to block your own shots.

I understand that Williams is young, and I am well aware that college students make irresponsible decisions. The difference is, when average college students get thrown out for disciplinary reasons, they mess up their own lives and disappoint their friends and family. But when someone like Williams does it, he lets down the entire team and school. He has a responsibility to many more people because he is an athlete, and the team’s success is at least partially dependent on him. Skinner in particular has invested a lot of time and energy in giving Williams chances to get his act together; unfortunately, it was a waste.

Williams also forces NBA scouts to mark his problematic off-the-court behavior in their notes. It is likely that he will have a career in the NBA. It is also possible that his troublesome conduct will affect his position in the draft. Teams unsure about him may recoil from his high-maintenance behavior. Before this incident, experts estimated that he could have been taken late in the first round. This could drop him out of the first round altogether. This is reminiscent of former Memphis Tiger Sean Banks, who was predicted to go in the first round before being dismissed from the team. He now plays in the NBA development league for the Los Angeles D-Fenders. The who? Exactly.

And NBA aside, the fact will always remain that Williams ruined an otherwise excellent college career.

Another athlete this situation reminds me of is former Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick. Vick’s time as a Hokie was studded with several notable accomplishments, including arrests for providing pornography to underage girls, reckless driving and marijuana possession. He attracted attention – and not in a good way – by giving West Virginia fans the middle finger and stomping on the leg of a Louisville player during a game. In 2005, Vick capped a successful 11-2 season that included a Gator Bowl victory by being dismissed from the team for driving with a suspended license.

Vick brushed off the dismissal, remarking, “It’s not a big deal. I’ll just move on to the next level, baby.”

Two days after declaring his eligibility for the NFL draft last January, he was charged with brandishing a firearm after pointing a gun at several teenagers. He was also recently sued for sexual battery of a minor.

His move to the next level, baby, did not go as he had hoped. He went undrafted, with many scouts concluding – after realizing that a copy of his criminal record made a useful doorstop – that he was more trouble than he was worth. Vick was eventually signed to the Miami Dolphins as a free agent, where he is currently the third quarterback on the depth chart.

People make mistakes. These are college students. It doesn’t make it okay, but for many, it shouldn’t ruin their futures. But there is a difference between a player who makes one mistake and a player like Vick, whose list of offenses should have a table of contents and maybe even its own set of SparkNotes. It is truly sad to see athletes with incredible potential sabotage their futures with bad behavior.

I can’t feel bad for Williams. He’s made mistakes before; he knew the potential consequences and he couldn’t get his act together. Boston College gave him more than enough opportunities to reform. Now, if he wants to play in the NBA, it’s up to him to get his act together on his own.

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Jamie Kapalko is a sophomore English major from Belmar, N.J. She can be reached at [email protected]