Warren Williams starts at point guard for the top-ranked DeMatha basketball team, yet if he had to make the decision between watching the NBA Finals or the World Cup on television, he would choose . . .

"Probably the World Cup," said Williams, a 5-foot-11 sophomore. "I know that a lot of people don't like soccer, but I like watching it. I like seeing the plays develop."

It should be noted that Williams also is a very good soccer player at the Hyattsville private school. In the fall, he helped the Stags win their first Washington Catholic Athletic Conference soccer title since 1987. He hopes to duplicate that success with the basketball team.

Williams scored a season-high 25 points in DeMatha's 72-64 victory over Raleigh Enloe in the semifinals of the Raleigh Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28. In three games in North Carolina, Williams averaged 14.7 points and was named to the all-tournament team, along with junior guard Billy Edelin.

"Soccer develops great footwork, and basketball is a game of great footwork," DeMatha basketball coach Morgan Wootten said. "This is an age of specialization, but certain sports work very well together. Soccer and basketball work well together. Grant Hill started off as a soccer player. Soccer helps you develop the footwork you need in basketball."

Williams started playing soccer in the second grade, and picked up basketball the following year. He no longer plays soccer year-round--he plays for the Stags in the fall and focuses on basketball during the winter, spring and summer.

Still, he was one of DeMatha's top soccer players, scoring 18 goals and earning all-conference honors as a forward. He had the assist on what turned out to be the game-winning goal in the Stags' 4-0 victory over Pallotti in the WCAC championship game. Two days after that game, Williams found out that he would be the starting point guard for the varsity basketball team.

"I was so happy," said Williams, who played on the junior varsity last season. "At the beginning, I wasn't confident about being a leader. Now I'm feeling more comfortable."

So far this season, Williams has averaged around 11 points per game. Wootten said he likes Williams's competitiveness, athletic ability and understanding of the game. Williams needs to work on his defense, Wootten said, because he has the quickness and agility to become an outstanding defensive player.

Since he reaps benefits including improved footwork, quickness, agility and fitness on the soccer field, Williams said he plans on continuing to play both sports.

"High school is supposed to be fun, a time when you play the sports you want to play," Wootten said. "But if you have the ability to go on and play in college, you might have to focus on one sport. . . . There's no question [whether Williams could play college basketball]. If a sophomore can be a good college prospect, he is."

"I'm hoping I don't have to choose," Williams said. "I hope I can play both sports in college."

CAPTION: DeMatha sophomore Warren Williams excels in soccer and basketball.