Walt Williams, starting point guard and leading scorer for the University of Maryland this past season, has been named one of 17 finalists for the 12-member U.S. National team that will compete in the 1991 Pan American Games, Aug. 3-17 in Havana, Cuba.
Williams survived tryouts involving 38 players this past weekend at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, and the finalists will move to a mini-camp at Purdue University on June 15. The team will be reduced to 12 members then.
The 6-foot-8 Williams, who will be a senior next season, averaged 18.7 points, five rebounds and five assists in 17 games. He missed 14 games this past season with a broken left fibula, returning in the last week of play.
Williams can play point guard, shooting guard or small forward, and his versatility wasn't lost on the selection committee and Pan Am Games coach Gene Keady, the head coach at Purdue.
"We kind of went out of our way to recruit big guards because I think that was something Mike Krzyzewski thought was a weakness last time," Keady said of the U.S. team's performance in the 1990 World Championships. "I think the strength of this team is the versatility of it. You've got some guys who can play a lot of different positions."
Williams was chosen along with five other Atlantic Coast Conference players. Aside from the ACC, no conference had more than two members as finalists. Other ACC players surviving cuts were: Tom Gugliotta (North Carolina State), Thomas Hill, Grant Hill and Christian Laettner (Duke) and Eric Montross (North Carolina).
Among those who failed to make the first cut were Eric Anderson and Damon Bailey of Indiana, Anderson Hunt of Nevada-Las Vegas, Mark Baker of Ohio State and Alonzo Jamison of Kansas.