Cleveland native Jawad Williams has been trying a long time for this. After graduating from St. Edward High School, and subsequently attending North Carolina where he helped the Tar Heels win the NCAA National Championship in 2005, Jawad has played basketball anywhere and everywhere he could, all in anticipation of someday reaching his dream and making an NBA team.
For Jawad, that day has come. And that team is none other than his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. According to Brian Windhorst in the Plain Dealer, Jawad Williams has made the Cleveland Cavaliers roster. Ronald Dupree, the man Jawad was battling with for that last roster spot, was cut from the team yesterday, leaving Williams as the last man standing.
While the impact of Williams on the team may not be of major consequence, this is still a feel good story. Jawad has played basketball all around the world to get to this point. According to Windhorst in his story,
“Jawad Williams knows the ups and downs of being a professional basketball player, so he spent Thursday trying to keep himself emotionally under control after receiving probably the biggest news of his career.
But the giant smile that kept crossing his face in a post-practice shooting game with his teammates at Capital University revealed some of his inner feelings.
The Cavs waived veteran guard Ronald Dupree before the workout, meaning Cleveland native and St. Edward graduate Williams had made the team’s 15-man roster. It is the first time Williams — who has played in Spain, Japan, Israel and the NBDL since leaving North Carolina — has been a full-fledged member of an NBA team.
“I’m not going to celebrate, but I think my family will celebrate,” Williams said. “For me the process is never over, I have to continue to work hard and prove I belong.””
As Windhorst points out in his article, Williams, a 6’9″ forward, became more valuable after the Cavaliers realized that they were going to be without Darnell Jackson for the first month of the season. Williams is able to play PF fairly well, as he relies on his ability to outwork opponents even though he may be smaller. Not his natural position, it’s that hard work and versatility that he honed while playing overseas that probably made the difference in allowing him to finally make an NBA roster.
Williams’ contract is not guaranteed, and it will not be guaranteed until January 10th, so until then, Williams will have to keep working hard and improving every day to keep his spot, something that should be no problem at all for him. His versatility and adaptability was what made him so valuable at UNC. On a team of superstars like Sean May, Rashad McCants, and Raymond Felton, it was Jawad Williams who was able to do all the little things head coach Roy Williams asked of him, and it was Jawad Williams who was able to fill in at almost any position on the court when they needed him. He was able to fit in with the younger stars who had taken some of his playing time, but he never complained and he never pouted, he only worked harder. It’s that mentality that makes me think Williams will fit in nicely on this Cavaliers team. I’m not saying Williams is going to get very much playing time at all, or that his impact will be noticeable in any way on this team. What I am saying, though, is that it’s nice to know the Cavaliers have a solid character guy with a killer work ethic who will be able to help out at multiple positions and who will bring it all in practice to challenge the starters as much as he can to help make this team better.
I was rooting for Williams to win this roster spot, and now that he has, I want to extend a big congratulations out to Jawad and his family. Best of luck to you, and here’s to hoping you eventually earn the right to have your contract guaranteed. We’re all pulling for you here at Waiting For Next Year.