Maryland Terrapins basketball players began saying their goodbyes Wednesday to sophomore center Jordan Williams, who said via Twitter that he is leaving the school and entering the NBA draft. His absence leaves the team with a rebounding void.
The player's departure was expected -- he has missed significant class time, did not appear at the recent men's basketball banquet and was presumed by team members to be all but gone.
But the manner in which the story unfolded surprised even Maryland athletic department officials, who said they had not been informed Wednesday afternoon about the player's intentions.
The Washington Post reported that Williams had signed with an agent -- Andy Miller of ASM Sports -- a move that prevents the player from withdrawing his name from the NBA draft and returning for his junior season.
Athletic department officials said Williams had not told them of his plans, calling his communication "poor." Maryland coach Gary Williams, responding to a Baltimore Sun query, texted a reporter early Wednesday afternoon: "Don't know for sure. May 8 is decision day."
Shortly afterward, the player tweeted his intention to remain in the NBA draft. "I wanna thank TerpNation for the support over the past 2 years I hope yall continue to follow me on my journey to the top!!"
Terps players used Twitter to register their feelings about Jordan Williams, the Atlantic Coast Conference's leading rebounder.
"Well now that we all know jordan is gone....its time for everybody to turn it up another notch to be ready for next season," forward Ashton Pankey tweeted.
Senior Dino Gregory tweeted: "Congrats @JWilliams20 makin that choice despite the hate keep doin ur thing bro."
Williams, who could not be reached for an interview, has been working out at a Las Vegas basketball camp. His parents, Leron and Dee Williams, did not reply to email messages, and the ASM agency said Miller was not immediately available.
Williams' high school coach, Tony Turina, said in an email: "I have not heard anything from him or his family about this whole subject. They pretty much have kept all details about Jordan to themselves. I only hope that they included Coach Williams in their decision."
Williams would have had until Sunday to withdraw his name from the draft and maintain eligibility. But signing with an agent prevents him from returning to school.
Williams averaged 16.9 points and 11.8 rebounds for the Terps this season, earning honorable mention All-America honors from the Associated Press. But it was also a difficult season as Maryland made neither the NCAA tournament nor the National Invitation Tournament for the first time since 1992-93. Williams appeared to fight frustration at frequently being double-teamed and seeing his team repeatedly fall short in games against nationally ranked teams.