Sean Williams and the Downfall of BC Hoops

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It was three years ago on Jan. 18 when Boston College's superstar center was dismissed from school.

Today we take time to remember his greatness and continue to reminisce about BC hoops' absence three years later.

Former Boston College center Sean Williams led the team in blocked shots each of his first two seasons; set a school single-season record with 63 blocked shots in 2004-05; blocked 55 shots in 2005-06 (third on the school's single-season list, a record that he would shatter his junior year); and was averaging five blocked shots per game, including 13 against Duquesne and 12 against Providence, during the 2006-07 season.  

Williams was such a force in the paint that he was dubbed Shot Block Extraordinaire, and fan sections were known as Williams’ Block Party.

Sean Williams wasn’t a heralded recruit out of high school, but he liked BC more than Texas. Williams was an outstanding athlete and a student, scoring highly on his SATs.

On the court, Williams averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds, and six blocked shots per game for Mansfield HS. Despite his success, Williams didn’t begin paying organized basketball until he was 15. His senior year, he was named top newcomer of the district. 

Williams arrived at Boston College in hopes of making an immediate impact. He played in 27 games, including all 16 conference contests. He averaged 4.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.3 blocked shots per game, averaging 4.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.3 blocked shots per game in league contests. He earned Big East All-Rookie Team honors.

He received Big East Rookie of the Week honors (Jan. 10) for his efforts against Connecticut and Providence, where he scored 24 points to go along with 16 rebounds and six blocks.

Williams scored in double figures in just two games and had just one double-digit rebound game. He recorded one double-double where he totaled 16 points and 10 rebounds (seven at the offensive end)—both career highs—in a home win over Providence (Jan. 8, 2005), shooting 7-for-7 from the field.

Williams finished the year ranked among Big East leaders (conference games only) in blocked shots (third, 2.25/game). He led or tied for the team lead in blocked shots 20 times.

Some of his best games as a freshman included a contest against Providence when he blocked eight shots, tallied four points, and grabbed two rebounds in 27 minutes of action. At UCLA he registered six blocked shots, two points, two rebounds, and two steals in the John R. Wooden Classic in Anaheim, Calif. (Dec. 5, 2004). He posted six points, five blocked shots, and four rebounds in a home win over Seton Hall (Feb. 23, 2005).

Williams started his career with a seven-point, seven-rebound, four-blocked shot outing against Maine (Nov. 19, 2004). He totaled eight points, six rebounds, and three blocked shots in 26 minutes of action in his Big East debut at Connecticut (Jan. 5, 2005).

In the NCAA tournament he averaged 8.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.5 blocked shots per game in the team's two contests in Cleveland, Ohio, notching 11 points and seven rebounds in a first-round win over Penn (Mar. 17, 2005).

Despite his success as a freshman, Williams wasn’t yet the dominating force that he would become. He had been outside the spotlight on Craig Smith, Sean Marshall, and Jared Dudley.   

In his sophomore year, Williams wasn’t outstanding, but he didn’t come to life until postseason play. It was Boston College’s first year in the ACC. He played in 27 games, including 15 ACC contests. He averaged 3.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.0 blocked shots per game—2.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.8 blocked shots per game in league contests.

Williams scored in double figures just once but ranked among ACC leaders (conference games only) in blocked shots (third, 1.80/game). He led or tied for the team lead in blocked shots 21 times.

He had one of his best games of the season when he registered seven points, seven rebounds, and a career-high nine blocked shots in a career-high 35 minutes of action in the team's double-overtime win at NC State (Feb. 25, 2006). In that game he swatted two shots in the first half, four in the second half, one in the first overtime, and two in the second overtime.

He totaled 13 points, five rebounds, two blocked shots, and two steals in a win at Holy Cross (Jan. 17, 2006).

In the ACC Tournament he averaged 3.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.0 blocked shots per game in the Eagles' three contests; he blocked two shots in each of the three games.

In the NCAA Tournament he averaged 3.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.0 blocked shots per game in the team's three contests. Perhaps one of Williams’ more memorable moments wearing a BC uniform was in the triple OT first round game against Pacific.

Williams swatted five shots in a second-round win over Montana (in Salt Lake City), and he posted seven points, seven rebounds, and three blocked shots against Villanova in the regional semifinals (in Minneapolis), one of which was the game-saving block at the time (fast-forward to six minutes into the video to see the block).

That block sent the game to overtime, where Villanova would score on a defensive letdown by Sean Marshall to give them the-one point advantage. BC held a 16-point lead after starting the game on a 9-0 run. With 40 seconds remaining in the OT and BC down 58-55, Jared Dudley made a layup on the block (it should’ve been an and one, along with the game-tying three in regulation).

BC would foul Kyle Lowry, and he missed the free throw. BC went down the court and got the ball their go-to guy Craig Smith, who put in the go-ahead basket. Williams blocked Villanova’s shot next out of bounds, and the Wildcats had no timeouts. As a result BC wasn’t able to set their defense, and Will Sheridan ran down the lane and scored on a goaltending call.

Louis Hinnant got a decent look from well beyond the arc, but his shot was short. Since then, Villanova has shot up on a national stage, while BC has taken a few steps back. Regardless of what happened in this one, BC was still returning Dudley, Williams, Smith, Marshall, and Tyrese Rice the next year.

A link to the ending of the Boston College-Villanova game from the 2006 Sweet 16 can be found here.

The 2006-07 season began with high hopes for the Eagles. A rocky start featured losses to Vermont (without Williams), Providence (after Williams returned), and Duquesne (without Dudley), but a 5-0 start in ACC play showed that the Eagles had gotten their footing. Williams played in just 15 games for the Eagles that season.

In those 15 games, Williams nearly doubled his minutes per game and nearly tripled his shot attempts per game. Overall he averaged 12 points per game, seven rebounds per game, and an impressive five blocks per game.

Standout performances against Providence (10 rebounds and 12 blocks), Maryland (10 points, 11 rebounds, and seven blocks), Kansas (19 points, 15 rebounds, and seven blocks), and Duquesne (19 points, 10 rebounds, and 13 blocks) were just a few of the many outstanding games for Williams.

In Williams’ last game for BC, he had 10 points, six rebounds, and three blocks in a win over Miami. The win vaulted BC to a 5-0 start in ACC play. Williams shattered his previous BC single-season record in just 15 games, recording a total of 75 blocks. Williams owned the previous record of 63 his freshman year in 27 games. 

On Jan. 18, 2007, BC's NCAA Tournament and ACC Championship hopes took a serious blow when junior forwards Akida McLain and Sean Williams were dismissed from school. Boston College has yet to release further information on the expulsions since the incident occurred.

The two each had two other suspensions prior to being dismissed. Williams was once suspended for marijuana possession, and McLain was involved in a counterfeiting scheme. Williams was the clear favorite for national defensive player of the year. 

Prior to his dismissal Williams wasn’t allowed to attend classes at BC in the fall, so he stayed home and took some lessons from former NBA player John Lucas, who has a history of helping players with substance abuse problems. 

With Williams being kicked out of school, his draft stock went down some. For McLain his career was all but over considering he wasn’t an NBA prospect.

Williams was a key to this team. His numbers early on in his career and offensive numbers overall aren’t that impressive, but the shot blocks and inside presence took BC to another level. He allowed Dudley to gamble a little bit more on the defensive end because he had Williams behind him. John Oates, Shamari Spears, and Tyrelle Blair filled in for Williams, but they weren’t able to replace what he had brought to the table.

Here is a look at some of Williams’ highlights at BC.

BC finished off the season going 5-6 in their remaining ACC games to go along with a second round exit of the NCAA tournament. BC had gone from Final Four/ACC Champion hopeful to a middle of the pack ACC team. The ending of the season was a sour one for four-year starters Jared Dudley and Sean Marshall, who had high expectations for their final year at the helm. 

Williams got off a lot easier than BC. He would be drafted 17th overall by the New Jersey Nets in the 2007 NBA draft.  He would win the starting role after a few games into the season. Williams would be placed back on the bench after a few players returned from injury, and when he was moved back to the bench, his season turned sour quickly.

In February of 2008, Williams was arrested on the BC campus. He was charged with a misdemeanor for violating restraining orders. Williams was hoping to attend the game against Duke that night.

Williams had been on good behavior while playing for the Nets, but when he was bumped down to the NBDL, he was tossed out of a few games, and the Colorado 14ers asked the Nets to recall him. Williams returned to the Nets but wasn’t himself. The Nets tried to trade him, but there were no buyers.

Just two weeks ago, on Jan. 11, 2010, Williams was released by the Nets. There is no news on what the future holds for Williams.

Here is a highlight clip of Williams' time spent in the NBA.

Meanwhile, Williams’ former teammates Jared Dudley and Craig Smith are playing limited roles for their respective teams. Both are averaging around 10 points per game. Other players, such as Tyrese Rice and Sean Marshall, are playing in Europe. 

For BC, the Williams incident has continuously brought them down since the 2006-07 season. They would win just four ACC games the following year and fail to qualify for the NCAA tournament. BC returned somewhat to its former self when it went 9-7 in ACC play last year and qualified for the NCAA tournament, where the Eagles were ousted by USC, but they have yet to truly return to their old selves.

Since the BC basketball program fell off, the football team has really taken charge as the school’s No. 1 sport. This downfall began with the Williams and McLain expulsions, later followed by the Shamari Spears and Marquez Haynes transfers.  

Here is one final look at the 2005-06 Boston College Eagles' Sweet 16 run.