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NBA Draft interview: Jalen Williams talks NBA future and basketball life


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From the end of the college basketball season to now before the 2022 NBA Draft, no one has seen their draft stock rise as much as Santa Clara’s Jalen Williams.

Having a terrific junior year, Williams earned an NBA Draft Combine invite in May and truly stood out as one of the top performers, cementing his place in the first round of this year’s draft.

Williams currently finds himself ranked No. 19 overall in our Grand Board 5.0 and is expected to go to the Denver Nuggets with the No. 21 overall pick in our final Simulated Draft 4.0.

With the 2022 NBA Draft set to take place on Thursday, June 23, Williams recently spoke with SI Fastbreak about the role basketball played in his life growing up and what the next chapter in his career journey looks like. basketball with his NBA future about to begin.

Growing up, what kind of role did basketball play in your life and what was life like for you and your family?

Jalen Williams: My life, even now obviously more than ever, revolves around basketball. I started playing when I was about four years old. Both of my parents played in the Air Force while serving, so it’s been a bit heavy, like basketball games always have been. I grew up watching Kobe Bryant, so a lot of that filtered into my childhood plan and my brother also plays, so you know, going through AAU together and playing basketball. When you’re bored you go out and do hoop and we also grew up playing 2K. Basketball has always been a big part of who we are.

The leap you made from your second season in Santa Clara to your junior season was very impressive. What changed for you last season to become the player you are now?

JW: I just think I’m able to work consistently. You know, we went through a “COVID phase” where it was really hard to get into the gym and especially for Santa Clara, our county was so bad. We’ve been a month and a half without playing and we’ve had enough of having to be on ‘COVID shutdown’ so just to finally be able to get back to the gym in the spring and summer and exercise and have the restrictions lifted That’s where I took the biggest leap. Just kind of living in the gym and perfecting stuff that I really needed to work on but just couldn’t because of COVID. Just being able to do it consistently has helped me grow.