CHICAGO — North Carolina coach Roy Williams expressed misgivings about Reggie Bullock’s decision to turn pro in the 2013 NBA draft.
Bullock doesn’t resent Williams’ position on this. But he disagrees.
“That’s Coach’s opinion. He’s been like a father to me. But if I feel I’m ready for that move, then it’s my decision at the end of the day,” Bullock told the Charlotte Observer during a break at NBA’s pre-draft combine Thursday.
Eleven previous underclassmen who played for Williams turned pro early and all 11 were drafted in the first round. That’s important, because NBA rules guarantee every first-round pick at least two years of lucrative employment. Williams reportedly expressed concern recently, during a Tar Heel boosters appearance in Charlotte, whether Bullock can go among the 30 first-round picks in June.
“I’m more worried about Reggie than I have been any of those other guys,” Williams said, according to a story on the scout.com website. The same story quoted Williams telling Bullock, “Reggie, I don’t think this is the smartest thing to do.”
Williams, a 6-5 small forward-shooting guard, gave up his senior season of eligibility after averaging 13.9 points and 6.6 rebounds last season. He’s a strong 3-point shooter, making 43 percent from the college arc last season.
However he’s hardly a can’t-miss prospect. NBAdraft.net, a widely respected draft source, ranked Bullock 47th in a draft where 60 players are chosen. That’s well below the top-30 that mandates guaranteed salary.
“I think I can really stretch the floor, I can rebound great for my position and I have great defensive instincts,” Bullock said. “I can still get better at the defensive end, moving laterally, but I can really shoot, rebound and defend. I can be that great role-player for whatever team selects me.”
Bullock said he gave Williams’ input full consideration before turning pro, a decision he could no longer rescind to regain college eligibility.
“I had a couple of meetings with him coming down with this decision. I went back and forth: Should I leave? Should I stay?” Bullock said. “Every coach is going to worry about his player turning pro. I understand his point. But I also feel I can do a lot of things in this draft that people haven’t seen me do.”
Bullock said he doesn’t come from a rich family, but this was not a financially urgent choice.
“I feel really confident,” Bullock concluded, “that there are aspects of my game people didn’t see in a Carolina uniform.”