'Close to Pringle's level': Mikey Williams flying under the radar among draft prospects

Mikey Williams suited up for Mighty Sports in the 2019 William Jones Cup. Paolo Del Rosario

Joshua Munzon, Alvin Pasaol, Jamie Malonzo and Jason Brickman are some of the notable names in the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft.

But one Fil-foreign baller in Michael "Mikey" Williams is also worth watching heading into the highly-anticipated rookie draft.

Listed at six feet and two inches, Williams played a total of 39 games in the 2014-15 NBA G League season, logging in 4.7 points, 2.3 assists and 1.4 rebounds in 39 games played for the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

The former Cal State-Fullerton guard then moved over to play for the Canton Charge from the 2016-17 through the early part of the 2017-18 seasons, norming an aggregate stats line of 5.4 points, 2.1 assists and 1.7 rebounds in a total of 49 games.

Charles Tiu, who coached Williams in the 2019 William Jones Cup and the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Championship, was surprised that the Fil-American guard's name isn't mentioned much in pre-draft stories.

"Absolutely surprising (not to see Williams' name mentioned). He could arguably be the best player in the draft," Tiu told ESPN5 matter-of-factly. "And it's tough for me to say that because I've coached or worked with a lot of the guys in the draft but Mikey is solid. He will be close to the level of (Stanley) Pringle."

Tiu, a basketball analyst and sports anchor as well in a TV news program, believes Williams can easily start as point guard for any PBA team.

"He works hard, doesn't complain and I like that he plays defense and takes care of his body well, too," shared Tiu. "He's a legit scoring point guard and a great shooter plus a solid defender. This guy was a legit playing in the NBA G League and had great numbers even in the US NCAA. He will be a star."

After Williams' G League stint, the 6-2 guard packed his bags and was recruited to play for the Saigon Heat in the ASEAN Basketball League, serving as Heritage Import in the 2017-2018 season.

The 29-year-old Fil-American guard would go on to average 17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.9 boards, and 1.0 steals, helping the Heat side to a sixth place before being eliminated by San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in the quarterfinals.

EMBM co-founder and Filipino sports agent Marvin Espiritu said he and business partner Matthew Manotoc have followed Williams' budding basketball career the last four years.

"Matthew has very good (basketball) connections in the US. In fact, the G League, when it was still known as D-League, we already knew that Mikey was playing there because we know everyone who has played there (in the G League) somehow has hopes of getting an NBA call-up," Espiritu told ESPN5 in Filipino on Monday.

After toiling for three NBA G League seasons, Williams agreed to play for the Heat, before getting recruited in 2019 to play for the GenSan Warriors in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) where he normed15.9 points, 6.6 assists, and 5.1 rebounds in the Lakan Cup.

"When he finally came to play here in the Philippines, that's where he really saw the basketball landscape of his motherland and that's when he may have really considered playing here," he added.

Born to American father Kurtiz Williams, a car salesman in the US and the late Angelica Baldo, who was born in Naga City, Williams takes pride in his roots as a Filipino.

He also speaks highly of the Philippine brand of basketball as well.

"The Philippines brand of basketball is unmatched in my opinion. The way basketball brings the culture together. Basketball is basketball it's all a part of the game," Williams told ESPN5 in a separate interview.

His name may not be mentioned in the category of Munzon, Malonzo and Pasaol, but Williams is confident he brings something into the table for any PBA team that selects him in the March rookie draft.

"I can play wherever they need me to be, if it's point guard, shooting guard, small forward, but naturally, I'm a point guard and shooting guard," shared the Fil-American, who is currently based in North Hollywood in Los Angeles.

Williams has showed his ability to shoot from long range, crediting it to the inspiration he drew from the late Laker legend Kobe Bryant, Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry and Philadelphia 76ers legendary guard Allen Iverson.

"Each player, I studied subtle things that did really well and I tried implementing how they played into my game," explained Williams.

Williams also took note of the huge contribution the NBA G League brought into his game and confidence.

"The NBA G League was a great stepping stone that allowed me to learn a different language through basketball," he said. "From playing systems to the ins and outs of being a professional athlete. That truly helped me develop and slow the game down for me to play the game at a high level."

Whichever PBA team will draft him, Williams said he intends to honor his mother's dream of seeing him play in her home country.

"Looking forward to the opportunity to play in front of friends, family and most importantly, honoring my mother's dream of seeing me play in her home country. It's been long time coming," he said. "Truly grateful to have my name among a bunch of household names. It's an honor and I can't wait to see how things unfold."