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Big Ten Tournament: NBA No Longer A Distraction For Minnesota Golden Gophers' Rodney Williams

The 2012 Big Ten Tournament has huge implications for the Minnesota Golden Gophers as they look to string together some victories and earn a miracle entry in the Big Dance. Gophers forward Rodney Williams has recently cleared his plate to focus on the tournament, too, as he's decided he won't attempt to go to the NBA when the season is over.

Williams had been talked about as a possible candidate to enter the NBA Draft following the season, a la Ralph Sampson III last year, but the rules change made it impossible for him to withdraw had he submitted his name. So, according to comments he made to the Pioneer Press, he's decided instead to stay at Minnesota for another season.

"That's definitely a big monkey off my back because that was the talk all season," the 6-foot-7 Williams said Thursday. "Now I can really focus on getting these last couple wins down the stretch so that we can make it to postseason play."

Williams scored just 12 points to go with six rebounds and three steals in Thursday's opening-round victory, but capped off overtime with a big dunk to put the final nail in the coffin of the Northwestern Wildcats. It'll be interesting to see what he does on Friday against the Michigan Wolverines.

For more on the Minnesota Golden Gophers, check out The Daily Gopher. You can also learn more about college basketball around the nation at SB Nation's College Basketball hub.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.