COLLEGE PARK -- A year ago, Maryland guard Walt Williams was a nearly forgotten player on a virtually ignored team. Because of a broken leg, he appeared in only 17 games for a team that was banned by the NCAA from live television and postseason competition.
The Terrapins are still ineligible to play after this week's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, but the 6-foot-8 senior from Temple Hills is getting the attention that eluded him for most of his college career. On Monday, he was named first-team All-ACC. Yesterday, he was named a first-team All-American by the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain.
Williams was selected along with Harold Miner of Southern Cal, Jimmy Jackson of Ohio State, Christian Laettner of Duke and Shaquille O'Neal of Louisiana State on the first team. Alonzo Mourning of Georgetown, Calbert Cheaney of Indiana, Don MacLean of UCLA, Anthony Peeler of Missouri and Bobby Hurley of Duke were named to the second team.
"Definitely, I felt like I belonged in a group like this," Williams said yesterday before practice. "I think I demonstrated at the Pan Am Games last summer that I could play with the best players in the country. But still to be considered with players like Harold Miner and Shaquille O'Neal and Christian Laettner is a great honor."
Said Maryland coach Gary Williams: "He certainly deserved it. I was a little worried [about the all-conference vote], because there are so many great players in the ACC, but I guess people appreciated just the kind of year he has had."
Not everyone apparently appreciated that Williams, despite facing double-teams and box-and-ones and other defenses designed to stop him, managed to lead the ACC in scoring with 26.4 points a game. Not everyone apparently appreciated Williams' string of seven straight games of 30 points or more and his ongoing string of 17 straight games with 20 points or more, the longest in the country among Division I players.
According to an ACC spokesman, Williams received first-team votes on all but one of the 105 ballots sent in; on the other, he wasn't on the first three teams. Overall, he received 310 out of a possible 315 votes for All-ACC, second only to Laettner's 314 votes. Williams became the first Maryland player since Derrick Lewis in 1987 to be named first-team All-ACC.
"I have no idea what people are thinking and what goes into their voting," said Williams.