'Just the beginning': Thunder selects Arkansas' Jaylin Williams 34th overall in NBA Draft

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Sitting behind a table draped with a black tablecloth in his old high school gym, Jaylin Williams sat with family surrounding him.

Williams, a star sophomore forward at Arkansas, held back tears as he addressed the crowd that had gathered for him. On the court at Fort Smith Northside in Fort Smith, Arkansas – where Williams won a state title and the 2020 Gatorade Arkansas Player of the Year Award – he learned of the next accomplishment in his basketball career.

On Thursday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder chose Williams with the 34th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. The draft party set in his hometown erupted.

“This is just the beginning,” Williams said.

Last season, Williams averaged 10.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists, helping the Razorbacks reach the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Tournament and was named to the All-SEC first-team.

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Arkansas forward Jaylin Williams reacts after dunking against Gonzaga during the first half of a college basketball game in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament in San Francisco, Thursday, March 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Arkansas forward Jaylin Williams reacts after dunking against Gonzaga during the first half of a college basketball game in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament in San Francisco, Thursday, March 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Williams, a rangy 6-foot-10, 240-pounder, is a proven rebounder. He set a single-season rebound record at Arkansas with 364 last year and ranked 15th in the nation in double-doubles with 16.

Williams, the fourth Thunder selection Thursday night, shouldn’t be confused with OKC’s third selection.

He shares a name with the Thunder’s No. 12 pick, Jalen Williams from Santa Clara. Their last names are spelled identical, but the first names have slight variations.

"Someone's going to get a nickname really quickly," Thunder vice president of basketball operations Will Dawkins joked early Friday morning at a news conference.

During the NBA Combine the pair often interacted with each other, laughing about the coincidence of sharing a name.

“I would get tagged in posts for him and I would watch his highlights,” Jaylin Williams told For The Win’s Bryan Kalbrosky.

Now, they share a name and a team.

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Jaylin Williams at a glance

Born: June 29, 2002

Height/weight: 6-foot-10, 240 pounds

Position: Forward

Hometown: Fort Smith, Ark.

College: Arkansas

Drafted: Second round, No. 34 overall by OKC Thunder

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This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: NBA Draft 2022: OKC Thunder picks Arkansas' Jaylin Williams at No. 34