June 6, 2014

Williams recaps spring, looks to improve

Back in November of 2014, Simeon product D.J. Williams pledged to Fighting Illini head coach John Groce. Williams was a big catch for Groce because all recruiting gurus feel Williams' upside is unlimited based on his potential.

Williams is a 6-foot-7 wing but has converted over to the guard position which also showcases his skill level. What the experts have to say about his "upside" doesn't concern the Chicago phenom.

"It's a process," Williams said. "I'm not the player I want to be right now. I have to be patient--I know my time will come soon."

Running with 17U Meanstreets this spring in Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League, Williams averaged 10.5 ppg in EYBL play. He showed a good all-around game, but is still looking to be more active offensively.

"My spring went well," Williams said. "However, it could have been a little better. But I can promise you this summer you will see a new and improved D.J. Williams."

The month of June is when most high school basketball players report back to their high school teams and learn to gel with their teammates.

"We started this past weekend for my Simeon," Williams said. "I'm definitely going to be better this summer than I am right now."

When you look at Williams' stats you're not going to be in awe. But watching his game - silky smooth moves, ability to create shots for himself and his teammates - all with a 6-foot-7 frame; that's why he's a high major player.

Williams is a four-star recruit and ranked as the nation's 55th best prospect in the class of 2015. Williams says he isn't concerned about the rankings.

"I don't compare myself to other players," he said. "I just use the guys ranked ahead of me now as targets and motivation."

Like all recruits who commit to Illinois, Groce plays a major part and did with Williams.

"Coach is doing a great job of recruiting great players and players that will fit in well at Illinois," Williams said. "I haven't been down there this summer but I will when I get the chance. I talk to Kendrick (Nunn) and Jaylon (Tate) all the time."

D.J. will not be alone in the backcourt when he arrives at Illinois in the year of 2015. His running mate will be Aaron Jordan, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Plainfield East High School, who had a great spring on the AAU circuit.

Williams relishes the opportunity to suit up with Jordan.

"Aaron is a great addition and a great piece added to the program," Williams said. "He's a pure shooter and a very hard worker."

Jordan has kept a close eye on his teammate as well and can't wait to play with Williams either.

"I think my game and D.J.'s will complement each other well," Jordan said. "Coach Groce has made a conscious effort to put the pieces of this puzzle together effectively. D.J. and I are both versatile guards that can do many things on the floor."

Kedric Prince has covered the Fighting Illini for over a decade. He is currently the Illini recruiting analyst for the Moline Dispatch / Rock Island Argus newspaper in the Quad Cities. Follow Kedric on Twitter @KedPrince4


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