Hoop star making transition from Marcos to ASU

By Brian Gomez

Former Marcos de Niza High School swingman DuBois Williams used to be the best player on his team. Now, he’s not even the best player at his position.

That doesn’t mean that Williams’ level of play has gone down. It simply means that the level of competition has risen.

Trying to make an impact on the Arizona State University men’s basketball team, Williams, a freshman walk-on, faces a difficult adjustment process typical of most players who transition from a high school team to a Division I program.

The practices have been longer and harder, as college coaches stress strength and conditioning instead of letting players go through the motions. The emphasis on fundamentals has increased, mainly because of the higher caliber of players in college basketball. And then there’s plenty of schoolwork and more than a handful of study sessions.

“You have to make your own decisions to do your work, to go to school, to come to practice, to lift and to go to rehab,” said Williams, who started preseason workouts last month. “The first two weeks (of school) were pretty bad, but now I’ve got a system to where I know what I’m going to do. It’s just up to me to do it.”

Williams isn’t sure whether he’ll redshirt this season or play as a true freshman. If he opts to forgo his redshirt year, he likely won’t receive much playing time.

With newcomers Bryson Krueger and Tyrone Jackson eager to compete for minutes, there’s a logjam at the guard and small forward positions.

Senior Jason Braxton and sophomore Kevin Kruger are expected to split time at the point, and senior Steve Moore likely will be the team’s starting shooting guard. Sophomore guard Tron Smith and freshman forward Tim Pierce also will factor into the mix.

“It’s much faster,” said Williams, comparing the speed of high school games to college practices. “Everyone is up on a level that they have to be on, and you’ve got to get used to it and just come through.”

As a senior at Marcos, Williams was recruited by several Division I schools, including California, St. Mary’s College of California, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Rutgers and Clemson. However, most schools lost interest after he twice broke a bone in his left foot.

ASU recruiting coordinator Tony Benford continued recruiting Williams, even though he didn’t have a scholarship to offer.

“He’s got a great feel for the game, and he knows how to play,” Benford said. “He could be a really good defender because he’s really quick and long. He could be a guy that could fit into what coach (Rob) Evans likes to do, especially on the defensive end.

“Offensively, he’s a tough matchup because he has really worked on developing his shot and shooting the three. But he has a nice mid-range game, and he can really pass the basketball.”

Like a strong work ethic, basketball runs in Williams’ family.

His father, Dave Williams, has coached at Scottsdale Community College and South Mountain Community College and he currently coaches a local club team. His uncle, Paul Williams, played at ASU for four years before being selected by the Phoenix Suns in the second round of the 1983 NBA draft.

“He still has that deep jumper from way deep,” Williams said of his uncle. “It’s hard to guard him when he can shoot from 30 (feet) out on you.”

Williams anticipates that the lingering effects of the transition to college won’t play a factor, as long as his game keeps improving.

“I’m trying to work on my shot because I want to be a shooter for this team this year,” Williams said. “More overall awareness of the game is starting to come back to me, in terms of seeing the court and keeping my head up and staying low. Those small things, I’m starting to get back.”