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Corliss Williamson

ONE OF the most surprising revelations of Arkansas's NCAA
tournament run was that Corliss Williamson, the Hogs' punishing 6 ft.
7 in., 245-pound sophomore forward, considers himself a budding
actor. ''Acting is a chance to have fun away from basketball,'' says
Williamson, who is a communications major with a minor in drama. How
fitting, then, that when he got his moment on the tournament's center
stage, the Razorbacks' leading man hogged the spotlight for all it
was worth.
Against Arizona in the national semifinals he was the strong,
silent type, hammering away at the Wildcats for 29 points and 13
rebounds while also providing subtle nuances to his performance with
five assists. In the thriller against Duke he found himself initially
cast as frustrated superstar. Going into the game, Williamson had
converted more than 71% of his field goal attempts in the 1993 and
'94 NCAA tournaments, putting him on course to break the career
record of .686, set by UCLA's Bill Walton. But in the opening )
minutes against the Blue Devils, he was so closely guarded by 6 ft.
11 in. Cherokee Parks that he missed his first five field goal tries.

''I was missing some easy shots that I should have made,'' said
Williamson afterward. Instead of panicking, though, he maintained his
patience and poise. The result: 23 points on 10-of-24 shooting for
the game and the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player award. His
career tournament shooting percentage to date? It's .649, fourth-best
''Williamson is such a great player,'' said Duke coach Mike
Krzyzewski. ''He doesn't hurry anything, and he's stronger than
anybody we've got.''
Coach K would probably be surprised to know that Williamson
remembers being ''almost anorexic'' as a child. However, he filled
out so well that as an eighth-grader he shattered a backboard with a
dunk. By the time he was a senior at Russellville (Ark.) High, he was
so beefy that some skeptics felt he was making a mistake by signing
with Arkansas. How could anybody with such a body play for the
run-and-gun Hogs, especially considering that Williamson's high
school team had played a walk-it-up half-court game? Williamson
wasn't worried, though, because his summer AAU team had used the
frenetic style favored by Nolan Richardson.
As a freshman Williamson missed 13 of the Razorbacks' first 14
games with a stress fracture in his right foot. When he was finally
ready to go, he allayed fears about his ability to play the up-tempo
game by averaging 14.6 points and a team-high 5.1 rebounds. Last
summer he not only moved his game up another notch by playing with
Duke's Parks and Georgetown's Othella Harrington on a U.S. team that
won an under-22 tournament in Spain, but he also shed 15 pounds
because he didn't like the food abroad. That was just fine with
Richardson, who did not dislike his budding star's new lean and
hungry look.
The more svelte Williamson improved by leaps and 'bounds -- he
took down 7.7 rebounds a game for the season -- and as a result he is
thoroughly enjoying his time on the college basketball stage. Asked
after the championship game if he had considered leaving school this
year to turn pro early, he answered, ''I've got a chance to win
another national championship. If I go anywhere, I'm going to go home
for the weekend.''