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Will a Draft Night gamble pay off for Donovan Williams ... and the Nets?

2022 NBA Summer League - Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Donovan Williams signing still hasn’t been announced although he’s posted videos of himself at HSS Training Center on Instagram and on Thursday, he took part in a charity event for BodyCon at Essex County College in Newark...

Williams, undrafted out of UNLV, has all the makings of a fan favorite. At 6’6”, the 3-and-D candidate has the physical tools — a 40” max vertical and 7-foot wingspan — as well as the personality. to become a fan favorite He showed both at Summer League in Las Vegas back in July. His “story” is also a winner. He chose the Nets. letting teams with picks at the end of the second round know he’d prefer not to be drafted. Instead, he waited for the Draft to be over and picked his spot, as Brian Lewis chronicled on Saturday.

“Honestly, on draft night, it was coming down close,” Williams said. “I was trying to figure out which team … I felt most comfortable with, which team I felt like I had the best chance to go in and make the squad. So I got on the phone with Brooklyn … and it was such a surreal moment. I had my childhood friends around me, my family around me. … [T]hat was just everything for me.

“I felt like Brooklyn was a team that I worked out with and I really enjoyed over the pre-draft process,” Williams added. “So it was definitely, I’d say, probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made in my life, just in that moment having to choose hearing my name called there over the rest of my career. … But I feel confident that I made the right one.”

Williams did not play much in Las Vegas. The Nets, rightly, used the Summer League to get minutes for its young players including four of their five 2021 draft picks as well as David Duke Jr. and Alondes Williams, their two-way contracts. But “Stretch,” as he prefers to be called, had his moments.

“Whether I play five minutes, whether I play 15, whether I play 25, I just try to go in and make plays,” Williams said at the time. “You don’t know how many minutes you’re going to play before the game. But when you’re out there, for me, I’m just trying to do everything that I can to stay on the court.”

A native of Houston who spent his first two years of college toiling for the Texas Longhorns, Williams has recently been mentored by Tracy McGrady (who is also his agent). He spent much of his time in Austin on the bench, then transferred to UNLV where he averaged 12.7 points for and hit a torrid 43.6 percent of his three’s. That was double his 21.9 percent number at Texas. The improvement wasn’t random.

“The whole thing is reps,” Williams told Lewis. “When I left Texas and came to UNLV, I hadn’t really worked on my shooting enough to my liking. So I just put the work in. I wouldn’t be [here] if I hadn’t put the work in.

“You shoot 200, 300, 400, 500 just to make that one in the game when it matters. So for me, it’s just always just about reps and going in every day, not wasting the day when I go into gym and just making the best of it.”

The chances of Williams making the Nets roster is limited. There’s not a lot of opportunities for rookies, let alone an undrafted one, on a championship contender, but he could very well wind up in Long Island after camp and get more of a chance in the G League. Adam Caporn, who was Long Island’s head coach last season and head coach of the Summer League entry this summer, thinks he can make things happen.

“He didn’t hesitate when he got out (to Las Vegas),” said Caporn now a Nets assistant coach. “Great energy. Strength and communication will be big things for him to succeed in the NBA.”

Starting Tuesday morning at HSS Training Center, Williams will get his chance. He believes he made the right decision. Low risk, high reward.