Damien Wilkins, Lou Williams return to Athens as pros

USA TODAY Sports

Damien Wilkins and Lou Williams are a couple of Hawks players that have strong ties to Athens and the Georgia Bulldogs.

The Atlanta Hawks are in the middle of a three day stay in Athens on the University of Georgia campus for training camp. For Damien Wilkins and Lou Williams its almost like going home again.

Wilkins was a member of the Bulldogs from 2002-2004 after transferring from N.C. State. He was a part of Jim Harrick's final team with the Bulldogs as a junior and served as co-captain as a senior for Dennis Felton in his first year as head coach.

"It's like riding a bike," Wilkins said. "You don't really forget about it. When you come back, all you can really think about is the time that you spent here."

The Bulldogs were 19-8 in Wilkins' first season with the team when abruptly ended in the controversy surrounding Harrick and his coaching staff. Wilkins was a co-captain for new coach Dennis Felton his senior season and averaged 12.8 points per game.

For years it has felt like Lou Williams was the one that got away for the Bulldogs. He earned back-to-back Mr Basketball awards while at South Gwinnett high school and was the recipient of the Naismith Award. He signed a letter of intent to play for Felton's Bulldogs but later elected to enter the NBA Draft instead.

"I signed a letter of intent to go [to Georgia]," Williams said. "I spent a lot of time here in high school. I was very familiar with the campus, this is where I was going to call my college home. Fortunately for me, I had a better opportunity with going to the NBA."

Williams was drafted in the second round by the Philadelphia 76ers where he remained for seven seasons before coming to Atlanta last season.

"If I was going to school I wanted it to be UGA," Williams said. "I felt really comfortable here. I'm from Gwinnett County so I'm considered kind of local here so this was always a place of comfort. If it wasn't going to be the NBA it was definitely going to be UGA."

The Hawks will wrap up training camp in Athens with a single practice on Thursday before returning to Atlanta.

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