Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell survived a last-minute recruiting rush by Dean Smith and signed the high school player yesterday he needed most - 6-foot-8 forward (Charles (Buck) Williams of Rocky Mount, N.C., High School.
Riesell had already signed All-America guard Reggie Jackson of Philadelphia and 6-10 center Taylor Baldwin of Greenwich, Conn. But his most immediate need was a power forward to replace Lawrence Boston, the only senior starter of last season's team.
Williams, who attends the same high school that produced North Carolina All-America Phil Ford, said he decided on Maryland above North Carolina, Memphis State and St. Joseph's several days ago. But when UNC's Smith visited this week, Williams said he wavered a bit and decided to think some more.
"I felt like maybe I might want to stay in the state," Williams said by telephone from his home. "People started writing me letters telling me to go to North Carolina. More than 25 people called me. It was pressure, but I feel I did what was best for Charles (Buck) Williams. I don't feel bad about it.
"I felt Maryland was the ideal place for me. I like Coach Driesell, I like the fast tempo they play, I like the facilities. I felt I could play a little sooner at Maryland. It seemed to me that at North Carolina the opportunity wasn't there at my position."
North Carolina returns its strongest player, Mike O'Koren, to its power forward-type spot, with junior Dudley Bradley and freshman Al Wood expected to fight for the other forward position.
Williams led Rocky Mount to the Class 4A state title and a 25-4 record last season, averaging 21.9 points and 19.1 rebounds a game, playing primarily at center.
Rocky Mount Coach Reggie Henderson, who also coached Ford, said Williams is "one of those rare athletes who comes along once in a lifetime.
"He's coachable. He's a gentleman. And he dees everything a 6-8 forward should do - he can shoot, rebound and play good defense."
"Jackson and fellow recruit Williams became friends when they played together for the last three summers in one of Philadelphia's summer leagues.
Both have good chances to start next year, giving Maryland a possible starting lineup of two freshmen, two sophomores (Al King and Greg Manning) and senior center Larry Gibson.
"Buck Williams is a complete gentleman, a great kid, the kind of person you want in your program on and off the court," said Driesell. "Naturally, we're very happy to have him."