Call him the best player from Cleveland since Earl Boykins
LeBron James is from Akron, he reps Akron, and there’s nothing wrong with that. He should represent Akron because he grew up there. And while LeBron is the best player to ever emerge from Northeast Ohio, the state of Ohio, and possibly the world, he’s not from Cleveland. So he can’t be the best player ever from Cleveland. But Jawad Williams could be. Maybe? After his last four games with the Cavaliers its at least a very real possibility. And if you think back to some players who’ve come out of Cleveland since Boykins way back in the early 90′s, I bet you never thought you would say that of Hot-Wad Jawad.
Jawad Williams’ Last Four Games:
In the last four games he’s played at least 9 minutes a game, averaging just over 17 minutes per contest. In those games he’s scored double figures twice, and averaged 8 points per game to go along with solid play on the defensive end of the floor off the Cavaliers’ bench. He’s gotten a steal in each of the last four games, and in the last two has connected on 4 of 8 from three-point range. Hardly an All Star – but - if he can play himself into the rotation for the rest of the season he just might make a career of it in this league. Which is more than can be said about a few Cleveland ballers I would have never dreamt wouldn’t.
Guys from Cleveland you probably thought would have had better NBA careers than Jawad Williams:
Melvin Levett: If you’re in your mid to late 20s you probably spent a good portion of your young life pretty convinced that Melvin Levett was not only the best basketball player in Cleveland, but quite possibly the world. He was amazing. And he went on to have a good amount of success playing for Bob Huggins at Cincinnatti, which most people thought would parlay into an NBA career of 10+ years. But after being drafted by the Pistons in the 2nd round of the 1999 NBA Draft, he later signed with the Lakers, and was released prior to ever playing an NBA game. He would play for the Globetrotters though, and is currently the Head Basketball Coach for the Miami Hamilton Harriers - bet you didn’t know that.
Sam Clancy: He would arguably still be in the league had it not been for a knee injury that forced him to sit his entire rookie year for the 76ers after being drafted in the 2nd round out of USC. But he did get hurt, and unfortunately that was it as far as the NBA goes. Growing up in Cleveland, while his Dad played for the Browns, Sam Jr. went to St. Ed’s and was a senior when Jawad was a freshman. At USC, he was named an All American and Pac-10 player of the Year for the Trojans, before being drafted in 2003. After missing his rookie year due to injury, he was waived by Philly, and later signed in 2005 with the Trailblazers, but was eventually cut before ever playing an NBA game.
Steve Logan: I thought Logan would be an NBA Player for sure, and probably would have been if not for his agent. A Cincy guy like Levett, and a HS teammate of Clancy and Williams – on arguably the second best HS team in Ohio HS history behind LeBron’s squad but honestly the ’98 St. Edward’s team would have given LeBron’s St. V’s team a game to be sure - Logan scored over 22 a game during his junior and senior seasons at UC. He was sweet, and as a Bearcat he was named 1st Team All American, Conference USA player of the Year, and scored enough points to be second on the UC scoring list behind only Oscar Robertson. But after being taken with the first pick of the 2nd round (29th pick overall) in 2002 by the Warriors, he would never play an NBA game. His agent argued that he should be paid first round money (the T-Wolves didn’t have a pick that year) and the team parted ways with Logan due to that dispute. He was last seen playing in Israel.
That’s not to say no Clevelanders have played in the NBA recently:
Earl Boykins entered the NBA in 1999, the same year Ruben Patterson did. I’m sure there’s some people would argue that Patterson was a much more productive pro that Boykins – and maybe rightfully so - but if you’ve read this blog for a while I’m pretty sure you know which way I’m leaning. Plus Earl’s still playing, and could probably play another 5 years. Beyond those two guys, JR Bremer (ex-Cav) had a cup of coffee in the league, and if you want to go a little further back Eric Riley played a handful of seasons in the NBA, and Kevin Edwards put together a very solid NBA career (mostly with the Heat) before retiring in 2001. If you want to go outside of Cleveland, and include surrounding areas, Eric Snow and Kosta Koufas are from Canton, Sacramento Kings’ star Kevin Martin is from Zainesville, and James Posey is from Twinsburg.
And it wasn’t easy for Williams to get here either:
After putting together a solid career for North Carolina, highlighted by the Tarheels winning the 2005 NCAA title his senior year after averaging 13.1 ppg and being named Third Team All ACC, he was drafted by nobody. And if you were me, you probably thought that was about it for Jawad Williams as far as big time basketball goes. And you’d have been right for the next few years. After being spurned out the gate by the NBA, in 2005 he played for the Fayeteville Patriots (NBDL), 2006 for the Anaheim Arsenal (NBDL) as well as in the Spanish League, and in 2007 he played in both Japan and Israel prior to eventually catching on with the Cavaliers in 2008. Here’s hoping he sticks.
Recent NBA Players from Northeast Ohio:
Name (year entered NBA) – City
Jawad Williams (’09) – Cleveland
Kosta Koufas (’09) – Canton
Kevin Martin (’05) – Zainesville
LeBron James (’04) – Akron
James Posey (’00) – Twinsburg
J.R. Bremer (’03) – Cleveland
Ruben Patterson (’99) – Cleveland
Earl Boykins (’99) – Cleveland
Eric Snow (’96) – Canton
Eric Riley (’94) – Cleveland
Kevin Edwards (’89) – Cleveland Hts
Brad Sellers (’87) – Warrensville Hts
Charles Oakley (’86) – Cleveland
Clark Kellogg (’83) – Cleveland
Phil Hubbard (’79) – Canton
Reference: NBA Players Born in Ohio