Williams Shooting to Play Point Guard at Iowa
The last few months of 2014 felt like a lifetime for Christian Williams. He sat stuck in his own personal purgatory.
During the summer, he and his mother moved from Decatur to Springfield, IL. Williams transferred Springfield Lanphier after spending three years at Decatur St. Teresa.
Shortly after beginning at his new school, Williams realized he missed his old one. He moved back to Decatur, lived with friends and re-enrolled at St. Teresa.
The Illinois High School Association ruled him ineligible for basketball following his shuffling of schools. The governing body eventually lifted the ban and he returned to the court on Jan. 10.
"I don’t really think most people realize how hard it was for me. To wake up everyday knowing that you can’t do what you love with who you love; with all of the work, sweat, and sacrifices that was put in to get to a certain point, it really devastated me," Williams said.
With those clouds cleared, the sun shined even brighter on Williams last month when Iowa offered him a scholarship. He accepted on the spot.
Wednesday morning at St. Teresa, Williams plans to ink his national letter of intent with the Hawkeyes when the month-long late signing period tips off. It’s another step in putting the dark days of December behind him.
"It means a lot. I don’t think that many people expected me to be at this level and it is just a dream come true," he said.
St. Teresa reached the state championship game after Williams’ return from a 13-game absence. He earned first-team all-state honors for the second year in a row, averaging 19.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 17 contests as a senior. He shot 52.8 percent from floor and 73.0 from the foul line.
Williams is a long, 6-foot-6, 180-pounder. He’ll remind Hawkeye fans of Roy Devyn Marble in physical appearance and style of play.
Marble played combo guard at Iowa before landing with the NBA’s Orlando Magic last year. He ran the point throughout his Hawkeye career.
Williams believes he’s very capable of handing the one in college. Iowa’s only point guards, Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons, will be seniors in 2015-16.
"I prefer point guard. I was a quarterback starting at age five all the way through high school. I have a natural ability to distribute the ball and that’s what I love to do. I excel more when the ball is in my hands. (The Iowa) coaches believe I can play the point and I am excited to show what I have to offer at that spot," Williams said.
Williams ran the point for The Peoria Irish, his AAU squad. Schools like Saint Louis, Bradley, Illinois State, Illinois-Chicago, LaSalle and Northern Illinois offered him scholarships believing he could run the show.
Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery has been evaluating Williams for quite some time. When point guard Trey Dickerson announced in February that he was leaving the Hawkeyes, McCaffery moved on Williams.
"The first time I met with Coach McCaffery was on a visit last year. After attending a football game and a basketball practice, I got to sit down with him and talk. It was kind of a shell-shock moment for me. I had to sit back and actually realize what situation I was in. I was in the office of the head coach," Williams said.
"But the most important part was how the conversation went. My first impression of him was the only thing I needed, which was that I could see that he was a well-mannered, charismatic, all-around great person who wants nothing but the best for others around him."
Williams tried to be patient. He visited Iowa several times in the last 18 months, each time growing more fond of the place.
"It just felt right from the first moment I stepped foot on campus. I felt like that’s where I needed to be and it felt like home," he said.
It looked in November like Iowa might not have room in the house for Williams. It signed four high school prospects in the ’15 Class and the remaining open scholarship likely would go to filling the need for a post player.
"When those four guys signed, I had a little bit of doubt. I thought that Iowa wasn’t the place for me and that I would just commit to another school," Williams said.
Being ineligible wasn’t helping Williams’ cause. But he worked hard in practice and never gave up on his dream to play at Iowa.
"I think it’s a lot like destiny. To me, the most important thing in a relationship is trust. I never give up on anyone and I always push for what I don’t have. But staying true to myself, and the relationship I had with the (Iowa) coaches, I trusted in them and what the future would hold," Williams said.
Williams gambled on Iowa. He risked losing out on openings at other schools that offered him if they filled their scholarships with different players.
Then, Dickerson, who ended up at South Dakota, created a hole at Iowa.
"I waited and sure enough what the coaches had told me could happen, happened. I trusted in them to offer in the spring and they trusted me to wait until they did offer and I couldn’t be any happier with my decision," Williams said.
Williams, who will major in Sports Management, expects to arrive at Iowa on June 14 and play in the Prime Time League. He’ll have come a long way from when his future was up in the air several months ago.
"I knew in the long run that it was all going to be alright and I couldn’t be more thankful for the people I am surrounded by daily who helped me out with it all. I had to grow up faster, before my time. It felt like I wasn’t just an ordinary kid anymore," he said.