'A surreal moment': What Santa Clara's Jalen Williams bring to OKC Thunder in NBA Draft
Jalen Williams remained emotionless as he heard his name rattle across the speakers at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
He leaned back in his chair and glanced toward the big-screen before he stood up. He smoothed his all-black suit out before hugging the family members surrounding him.
But even after it was announced he had been drafted No. 12 overall in the 2022 NBA Draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder, his emotions never wavered.
He was trying hard not to ugly cry.
“It’s kind of a surreal moment and it’s hard to really put into words,” Williams said.
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Jalen Williams joins Steve Nash in Santa Clara lore
Williams, a junior guard from Santa Clara, averaged 18 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists last season with the Broncos. He is the first prospect from Santa Clara drafted since Steve Nash was selected No. 15 overall in 1996.
The 21-year-old was an efficient scorer with the Broncos, shooting 51.3% from the field and 39.6% from 3-point range.
Like Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren – the Thunder’s No. 2 overall pick – Williams is a unique specimen. His strong, 6-foot-6, 209-pound frame is accompanied by a 7-foot-3 wingspan, making him one of the longest players in recent history relative to his size.
Gonzaga and Santa Clara are members of the West Coast Conference, meaning Holmgren and Williams played against each other twice this past season. Williams said he is excited to be teammates with Holmgren.
“It’s kind of cool that we get to go through the experience together now instead of being enemies on the court,” Williams said.
Williams said he is eager to play with guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who Williams said he shares a similar style of play with. He said he worked out for the Thunder several weeks ago, and enjoyed the competitive environment.
Williams said he hopes to bring “defensive fire” to the Thunder this season.
“I think everyone can score the ball,” Williams said. “I think just being able to be versatile on defense, as well, and bring that competitive spirit into the gym.”
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Jalen Williams at a glance
Born: April 14, 2001
Height/weight: 6-foot-6, 195 pounds
Hometown: Gilbert, Ariz.
College: Santa Clara
Drafted: First round, No. 12 overall by OKC Thunder
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This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: NBA Draft: OKC Thunder selects Santa Clara's Jalen Williams at No. 12