Sam Pellom, a UB basketball player who graduated in 1978, represents the last UB player to play in an NBA regular season game. 45 years later, class of 2022 graduate Jeenathan Williams could become the first UB player since Pellom to play in the NBA.
On Saturday, the Portland Trail Blazers announced that they signed Williams to a two-year contract.
Already eliminated from playoff contention, the Trail Blazers have just five regular season games remaining, so there’s a likelihood that Williams has a chance to play some notable minutes.
After going undrafted in the 2022 NBA Draft, Williams joined the NBA G League in October, landing with the Salt Lake City Stars (the G League affiliate of the Utah Jazz).
Williams averaged 14.4 points per game while shooting 52.3% from the field and 41.7% from three in 32 games for the Stars. He also averaged 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
Listed at 6-5 and 205 lbs., Williams has always had NBA-ready size. Playing mainly small forward while with UB, Williams was primarily a shooting guard with Salt Lake City.
The Rochester native worked his way up the roster during his time at UB from 2018-22, something he’ll certainly look to do with the Trail Blazers.
Williams was a freshman on the historic 2018-19 UB team which earned a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. He had the luxury of learning behind UB greats like C.J. Massinburg and Jeremy Harris.
By the time Williams finished his final season with the Bulls in 2021-22, he was a three-year starter and became the team’s go-to scoring option. In his final season, Williams averaged 19.1 points per game while shooting an impressive 45.1% from three.
Now, Williams will see if his ability to score the ball will translate to the NBA.
Brandon Cochi is an assistant sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org