College or pro? Williams calm as draft nears

Tina M. Fonseca
May 24, 2013
Local to play for Team USA
May 28, 2013

It’s almost decision time for Terrebonne High School baseball player Justin Williams.

The MLB Draft begins tomorrow, and somewhere over the course of the 40-round selection period, Williams will be chosen by a MLB team.

Williams will likely be picked in the very early stages of the draft – placing him into a difficult situation as he heads into the summer months.

Somewhere in the coming weeks, the Terrebonne High School phenom will have to decide whether he will attend LSU and begin his collegiate career or instead forego college, accept a six-or-seven figure contract and fulfill his dream of becoming a professional player.

Just one day before the draft, Williams said he is keeping his options open and isn’t leaning in any direction.

“I’ve just been relaxing,” Williams said. “I’ve been going hit and doing all of the same things that I normally would do to get better. I know that it’s all coming around the corner here pretty soon, but I’m not really thinking about it too much right now, because it’s a win/win situation for me. No matter what happens, I’m going to end up in a good spot and in a good situation.”

Williams said he is at ease heading into the draft because he believes both of his options are “winning situations.”

On one hand is the professional game – something Williams said has been a dream of his throughout his lifetime.

It’s inevitable that someone will select the 6-foot, 4-inch standout within the early rounds of the draft.

From there, it all becomes a chess match.

Is the team a good fit?

Is the team offering a fair price?

Early round selections in the MLB are known to get contracts that are sometimes worth up to seven figures.

Williams said he has hired an advisor, who will assist he and his family in making a final decision.

The Terrebonne standout said he will listen to all of the members of his team before making the final decision whether to sign or enroll in college.

Williams said he doesn’t have a concrete round or dollar amount in his head, adding that it will depend on the situation.

“We’re going to decide that after the draft,” Williams said. “The way it works is when they draft you, they call you. I don’t know what my advisor is going to tell me. Of course, it’s my decision and it’s up to me to decide, but these guys know what’s best. They’ve been in business longer than I’ve been playing baseball. … If they tell me an answer one way or another, it will weigh heavily in what I decide to do.”

If Williams does decide to sign with the pros, his career would begin immediately upon his signature.

He said he would make his debut in instructional ball less than a week upon giving his professional team a signed contract.

“It would all start right away,” Williams said. “They get you out there right away to get started so you can start immediately working on the things you need to do to get better.”

If professional baseball isn’t yet in the cards, Williams said he doesn’t have a problem enrolling at LSU and enjoying three years of college baseball.

Williams has signed a National Letter of Intent with the Tigers and said he loves the LSU program.

“LSU provides such a great atmosphere,” Williams said. “The fan support there is insane. The baseball team is great. The coaching staff is great. It’s just awesome all-around.”

Williams said that he also understands that if he isn’t satisfied with his selection, he would have the option to enroll at LSU and improve his positioning.

That is what current Tiger Alex Bregman is doing.

The LSU shortstop said if he wasn’t a first round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, he would enroll at LSU to become a first rounder out of college.

He was picked in the 29th Round by the Boston Red Sox.

After a dominant true freshman season, analysts are already touting that Bregman may be the No. 1 overall pick the next time he is draft eligible.

“Definitely that’s something I pay attention to,” Williams said. “I’m always looking to get better. Whether it’s in pro ball or in college, I’m always looking to improve and get better. Over there, they have great coaches and pretty much everyone who leaves their program leaves a much better player than they were when they got there. That’s definitely something that’s important to me and something that I pay attention to.”

So while he waits to hear his name called, Williams said his focus has been on finding peace within his life and enjoying the life of a teenager.

Williams said he spends his free time working out and watching little league games around the area.

He also does a lot of hunting and fishing – just normal stuff.

“I have to find time to enjoy being a teenager,” Williams said. “I’m still only 17 years old. I can’t get too caught up in everything that’s going on around me. I have to find a way to relax, have fun and be myself.”

Still, Williams said he’d be lying if he said he hasn’t thought about what lies ahead within the next 24-48 hours for him.

He said being drafted by a professional team will mark a dream come true within his life.

Williams said he has “no idea” how he will react when he is handed the phone and a professional team is on the other line waiting to tell him that he’s their pick.

“A lot is going to be flashing through my mind when that happens,” Williams said. “That’s going to be an amazing moment in my life. Every, single baseball player’s dream is to get drafted – not even out of high school, but just getting drafted in general. I can’t even imagine what will be going through my head – it’s going to be a million things at once. What will I say to him? I have to make sure it’s all of the right things – I don’t want to make a bad impression. I just want to make sure I come off the right way and make a good first impression.

“Which will be somewhat hard to do, because on the inside, I’ll be so pumped up and excited, because my dream will be coming true right in front of me.”

Terrebonne High School standout Justin Williams stares into Monday afternoon’s bright sky inside the first base dugout at Terrebonne’s baseball field. The former Tiger infielder is going to have a life-changing decision to make in the coming weeks. He will decide whether to sign with the professional ranks or enroll at LSU and enjoy a career with the Tigers. He is expected to be an early-round pick.