This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

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Former Gopher Rodney Williams looks ahead to his next step

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under Gophers players Updated: May 30, 2013 - 11:29 AM

Former Gopher Rodney Williams clearly has a tough road ahead of him as he tries to find a new home. While he’s shown flashes of inspiration throughout his career, the shortcomings that have long been the subject of criticism for the four-year Minnesota player are still apparent.

I went over to the Timberwolves’ pre-draft workout on Wednesday to check in with Williams and chat with new president of basketball operations Flip Saunders about the Minneapolis native.

You can read the full story by clicking on the link above, but I thought I’d also share more thoughts from Williams and Saunders that came out of the media availabilities here:

Williams:

On the workout at Target Center: “I think pretty well, for the most part. I shot the ball pretty well, except I did shoot that one air ball today but you know, it was good to get that out of the way. And other than that, I felt pretty good.”

On this first glimpse at the next level: “The grind is a little bit harder. You’ve got to put in extra, extra time in the gym to go out there and be able to compete with the best. The thing that I’ve learned most just training for the NBA is that the grind never stops out there.”

On his shooting: “I’m definitely out there in California getting up a lot more shots. The one thing I’ve heard is that if you can play D and knock down that corner three, there’s a lot of money to be made in that. That’s what I’ve been working on.”

On nerves of playing in Target Center: “For me, at least, there’s always going to be nerves. Anytime I step out onto the court, I’m going to be a little nervous at first. But just to be able to be out here, the experience is good. Get out here and get to meet some guys and reconnect with guys that I met at AAU and through college. So the whole experience has been good for me.”

On the impact of current NBA players that were taken late in the second round: “That definitely gives me a lot more hope. Guys like Draymond Green, he was a second-rounder, and he was a big key to how good the Warriors did this year. So just guys like Draymond give guys like me a lot of inspiration, a lot of hope.”

On whether he looks back and wishes he did something different: “You know, every once in a while I think that, but I’ve just got to look forward. I can’t take back what I did and what I didn’t do so now it’s just time to look forward and focus on what I need to work on, and get better day by day.”

On his support system: “I think everybody down at the U, they’ve been real supportive. Family, definitely have been real supportive. But the biggest help, I think, was my teammates at the U, they helped push me after the season was over – I wanted to take a couple weeks off, but those guys were getting on me to get in the gym and stuff. Just before getting out to California to start my training, those guys definitely helped push me a lot.”

On his mindset after the season was over: “I was getting a little frustrated with myself, not playing up to my expectations. That was a little frustrating for me. But for me to be able to kind of get a fresh start and be able to go work on things I needed to work on, I think that was good for me.”

Does he have a side bet going with Trevor Mbakwe on who will get drafted first? “Oh, no. We’ll soon make that bet. Don’t worry – you’ll hear about it. I’m sure Trevor will tweet about it.”

On playing overseas if he doesn’t get drafted: “I haven’t talked to any teams in that regard, but if that was the case, I would definitely go do it. Anything to help me get to my dream and that’s the NBA, so if that’s going to have to be overseas for a couple years then so be it.”


Flip Saunders:

On what about Rodney Williams’ game translates to the next level: “Right now, nothing. That’s what he is right now, he’s an athlete. There are players in our league that are athletic, but your other skills have to develop. So with Rodney, that’s going to be where he is now – can he make that transition over the next three weeks and use his athleticism defensively and maybe tickle somebody’s fancy by how he plays. That’s what we’re going to have to see.”

On where Williams is and where he needs to be: “Transition player. He’s got to become a perimeter player rather than an inside player. Ball skills have to improve, shooting skills have to improve. We know he’s always been a great athlete, but at this level you just don’t get by with athleticism. … He’s going through the process right now. He was in New Jersey last week, he’s tested out great athletically, but it’s a different story when you have to play against people, and that’s usually how we play games, against people, not by yourself.”

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