When the Buckeyes hit the court tonight against Walsh University, one of the major things head coach Thad Matta and his coaching staff will be looking for is a defensive presence to replace graduating All-American Jared Sullinger. The center position looks to be an open battle between Boston College transfer Evan Ravenel, Amir Williams and fellow Michigan Prep star Trey McDonald, and we may get some answers about the future of the position this evening.
The 6’11″ Detroit Country Day star follows the steps of Yellow Jacket alums Keith Benson, JaVale McGee, Chris Webber and Shane Battier as budding future stars. He is by far the tallest player on the roster and offers the Buckeyes a post power on both sides of the basketball. He’s no Greg Oden or Jared Sullinger, but without a doubt, Amir Williams has the talent to grow into an All-American candidate in the future.
Hometown: Birmingham, MI
High School: Detroit Country Day
High School Accolades:
- 2011 McDonalds All-American
- 2011 Parade All-American
- 18 PPG (2011)
- 12.6 RPG (2011)
- Finished 3rd in Michigan Mr. Basketball Voting (2011)
A four star prospect, Williams was considered the 10th best center in the 2011 class according to Rivals.com and ESPNU ranked him the fourth best of his class. Without a doubt, Williams entered the Big Ten as the best center of the class, and it’s undisputed that his shot blocking ability is lights out and already at the top of the conference. Some believed that Williams could contribute right away, but he only saw spot time late in games and in occasional relief of Sullinger in foul-trouble situations.
As per usual, stats are provided by BuckeyesBeat.com.
From 12-15 feet, Williams is money offensively, whether it be with his post game of facing the basket. He has a lot of weapons to his offensive game that are downright mean. Whether it be the baby hook or jump shot, Williams can burn you from ‘outside’. Deep within the paint, if given space, he will scare you with his authority.
Defensively, Williams is a shot blocking fiend. What makes him so good at it is that he is athletic enough to cover the floor and get back to contend guards and smaller forwards. He also has the strength and physical intangibles to match up and swat any big man that turns his back to him. The biggest upside for Williams is the fact that he has a lot of room to grow and the talent is there for him to become an unbelievable player on both sides of the basketball.
Offensively, the youngster does a good job with positioning him self for the best chance to score. He isn’t your typical banger inside, but his athletic ability allows him to move on the court like a small forward. His frame is only going to grow, which gives him an outside shot at hitting that seven foot plateau.
There have been times in the past where Williams has almost fallen asleep in games at the high school level. Despite being a lot more talented than the talent he faced, there were times when he was shut down completely out of games. There is a whole focus factor that is a part of the college game. You can’t let your mind take a second off, or you will turn the basketball over or put your offense in rough shape with bad shot selection. We didn’t see too much of that during the course of last year, but he also didn’t see the court very often. It’s something worth keeping an eye on as he gets more playing time this season.
Though he is a good passer, he does have to improve getting the ball out when facing pressure, instead of either putting it up, or turning it over. He has great vision for open lanes and finding an open man on the perimeter if he is comfortable with the basketball, but sometimes when facing intense pressure his natural selection on the court leaves him and he panics. With that being said, he still fits well in the Ohio State philosophy, because he is a passing big man. If he sees someone open on the court, he gets rid of the basketball.
Lastly, while he has excellent offensive presence and scoring ability, he has very poor footwork and positioning. We often saw Amir Williams looking like a rock in the paint last season on offense. Instead of moving around, fighting for position, and demanding the ball we saw a player who was more tentative and unsure of himself in the paint. A good post player makes it easier for his team to get him the ball, and harder for the opponent to defend him, especially when he doesn’t have the ball. Movement and play without the basketball is sometimes one of the hardest concepts to learn, especially when you’re a dominant player, so it is not too surprising that Williams suffered from it last year.
What’s scary is that all of William’s flaws are easily fixable with good coaching, experience on the court, and motivation to be the best player he can be.
Role for this Team:
Despite the pre-season buzz, Amir Williams did not see much time on the court during his freshman campaign. This didn’t come as too much of a surprise to those in the “Matta always plays 7″ crowd, but considering what Williams brought to the table, this was a bit of a shock.
Don’t expect that to happen again this season.
Amir will be expected to be a key contributor this season for his play on both sides of the ball. He should be much improved offensively, and reports out of practice claim that he’s already a terror defensively. His shot blocking has been in full force, leading several players to be less than enthusiastic about engaging him in practice.
Williams will play the 5 position for the Buckeyes this season. Though he may not start (and I think he will) it would surprise me greatly if he didn’t see at least 20 to 25 minutes per game just from a defensive perspective. If his offensive game has turned the corner, he could be a serious problem for defenders inside and a good step forward for the Buckeyes.