Memphis commit Williams continues overseas trend

Brandon Jennings and Jeremy Tyler aren’t the only high school talents who have chose to continue their basketball careers overseas rather than in college.

Latavious Williams is the newest example of a trend that’s formed over the last year as a result of the NBA’s minimum age requirement.

Jennings, remember, didn’t have much of a choice when the NCAA hadn’t cleared him academically to play at Arizona about a year ago and he took the $1 million-plus offer to spend the year in Italy.

It was basically Italy, prep school or the National Basketball Development League.

A few months ago, Tyler, a 6-foot-11 talent from San Diego, opted to leave high school toward the end of his junior season and go the overseas route.

It was a little more head-scratching, but Tyler has as much potential as just about anyone in the Class of 2011 in the entire country.

The Williams situation makes far less sense.

Sure, he still hadn’t qualified academically to play for first-year coach Josh Pastner at Memphis, but the Tigers felt as though the chances were somewhere in the range of 50 percent that he’d be able to play as a freshman.

“We wish him the best,” Pastner said on Tuesday morning after hearing the news circulate that Williams wasn’t going to be attending college.

Williams put out a news release on Tuesday morning but still hadn’t notified Pastner or the Memphis staff as of early afternoon.

“It was a difficult decision,” Williams said in the release. “But after consulting with a number of people, and taking my family situation into consideration, playing overseas is the best move for me.”

“It will not be an easy transition, but I have surrounded myself with a core of very competent people who I trust and who have my best interests at heart, so I am confident that things will work out very well.”

Williams is a 6-foot-8 athlete who isn’t overly skilled and won’t command nearly the money that Jennings — or even Tyler will — over in Europe.

Williams was ranked No. 17 in the country by Rivals.com, but Scout.com dropped the Mississippi native out of their rankings altogether because of a questionable academic situation and the fact that he re-classified after last year.

Williams, 19, attended Humble Christian Life Center in Texas this past season.

Williams’ mentor/advisor, Trey Godfrey, said that money was the ultimate factor.

“He made the decision when taking into account his family situation,” said Godfrey, who is a certified agent who maintains there is no agreement in place with Williams. “He wants to put himself in a situation where he can help out and he saw this as a good opportunity.”

While Godfrey declined to discuss financial specifics, he did say that the figure Williams is expected to receive is in the six-figure range. Godfrey also said that former shoe company czar Sonny Vaccaro — who helped broker the Jennings and Tyler deals — is not involved at all in Williams’ decision to go overseas.

“There’s no deal in place,” Godfrey said. “There have been conversations with several teams in several different countries. China is one of them, but there is no deal on the table.”

“This may have been a shock and come out of the blue, but as far as Latavious was concerned, this was always an option,” he added. “It was always on his mind.”

Maybe not always.

Jennings being drafted in the NBA lottery last month, 10th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks, certainly helped sway Williams’ decision.

“To an extent,” Godfrey said. “In so far as the experiment was successful. Brandon was the guinea pig and took a big chance — and it paid off.”

However, Jennings didn’t truly have an option when he made the decision — and he made more than $1 million and became a lottery pick.

This, however, could be the last we hear of Williams.