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Damian Lillard’s superior faculty has a different star, but it continue to can’t get more than the hump


OAKLAND — In his very first action soon after becoming eradicated, mentor Orlando Watkins walked to midcourt, outstretched his arm, and picked his star participant up from the hardwood. As shortly as the buzzer sounded, Oakland junior Revenue Williams place his head in his arms and collapsed, although all all-around him, triumphant opponents did their very best not to trample him in their celebration.

Income — indeed, that’s his specified name, and indeed, there is a story — may well be the best player to go by Oakland Large because Damian Lillard. The slashing 6-3 guard’s breakout junior time helped the Wildcats attain new heights not even achieved with Lillard — 27 wins, their most in 17 seasons less than Watkins — but wasn’t quite adequate to vanquish the program’s prolonged-lasting demon: the NorCal regional semis.

The closing four of Williams’ activity-substantial 17 details Saturday night arrived within the remaining 2 minutes, but with 7 seconds left, following Tyric Herod’s heroics on the other end experienced offered Bullard-Fresno a a single-position direct, Williams didn’t get the ball on the last possession. A teammate released an errant 3-issue shot, ending Oakland’s year in a 60-59 reduction, eliminated a game absent from the NorCal last for the third time below Watkins.

All Williams could do was slide to the floor.

“He didn’t want us to get rid of. He desired us to play on,” Watkins claimed. “And we just fell shorter.”

With 19.8 points for every recreation, Williams developed at about the exact clip this time as Lillard did (19.4 ppg) soon after he transferred in for his junior calendar year in 2006-07. The following yr, Lillard arrived back again and averaged 22.4 factors though top Oakland to 23 wins and the NorCal semifinals, its ideal season less than Watkins — until finally this just one. They created it again to the NorCal semifinals in 2011 and, once more, had been vanquished.

Williams commenced to produce buzz just after he scored 35 towards Oakland Tech previous month, his greatest of 4 30-plus place performances, the newest coming in the Oakland Athletic League semifinals with 33 in a gain in excess of AIMS School Prep.

“I’ve been blessed to mentor a great deal of excellent kinds. Money’s one particular of the fantastic ones,” Watkins stated. “He nonetheless has some matters to learn and work on but he’s a kid that methods up to the challenge. He wishes to get there.”

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The two Oakland-born guards aren’t produced in the exact mold.

First off, Lillard raps less than the pseudonym Dame D.O.L.L.A. Williams desires not create a pretense to make use of this sort of a moniker.

He is the second in a line of Moneys, named after his father. As Revenue Jr. tells it, his grandmother’s brother struck it wealthy, and she went on to bequeath one of her youngsters with the name. (The back again of his jersey, if it experienced a name, would say, “Williams Jr.”)

Lillard, a prolonged-selection sharpshooter in the mold of Steph Curry, was presently capturing at a significant clip from further than the arc in high college. Williams, who is presently taller than Lillard, is adept at slashing through website traffic and receiving to the rim, frequently drawing get hold of in the approach.

Williams, who experienced only performed AAU just before this season, claimed “I usually knew I had the expertise,” but that participating in at the varsity large university degree essential a new degree of discipline. This offseason, Watkins claims, he demands to study when to stay clear of speak to. He drew two expenses on defense but was called for as numerous on the other finish.

“Sometimes players like to take up that contact to complete and the refs call a foul, but often they really don’t contact a foul, so now you have created a tougher shot and it does not go in,” Watkins mentioned. “I feel that’s what took place tonight not just for Dollars but for some of our other young ones, as well.”

Williams went off for 12 details in the 1st fifty percent on Saturday.

All five of his factors after intermission ended up attained at the stripe.

“The activity system was keep me out of the center, double-group me, make me go appropriate, so I had to get my teammates involved,” he mentioned.

Soon after taking a 36-31 direct into halftime, Oakland’s offense went silent to open the 2nd 50 percent. The very first of Williams’ 5 next-50 % no cost throws was all the Wildcats could score for the very first part of the third quarter even though Bullard flipped the sport on an 11-2 run.

“We just didn’t execute down the extend,” Watkins claimed. “They pushed the ball. Effortlessly they experienced about 15 points if not a lot more just on us scoring and them just functioning. That was the variation in the activity. … Revenue played perfectly. I believe he got a minor disappointed at the beginning of the third quarter, but he adjusted, he attacked the rim, he did good factors defensively. But after once more, one particular position quick.”

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Williams’ last free of charge throw place Oakland forward 59-56, a moment absent from reaching the Division III NorCal finals.

But Lejuan Watts answered with what he experienced completed all evening for Bullard and bullied his way to the basket, crossing above at the rear of his back again and having his defender off the dribble for his closing of 15 details, cutting Oakland’s lead to 59-58. He acted as a decoy on the Bullard’s last possession, letting Herod to drop no cost in the paint and rating the recreation-successful bucket with about 7 seconds left.

A strong 6-5, Watts seems to be like a man amongst boys — and played like it.

With 15 details and 13 rebounds, Watts secured his second straight double-double, after gathering 18 and 12 in a quarterfinal get.

“Big dude is a load,” Watkins mentioned. “He killed us on the glass.”

The groups traded potential customers eight periods and neither led by a lot more than 6 details.

Williams explained he was wondering of the seniors when he fell to the floor, and Watkins stated the occupations of five gamers coming to an stop as what stung the most in a reduction that finished an usually stellar time, Oakland’s most wins in any of Watkins’ 17 seasons.

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