No matter how many players succeed at the NBA level coming out of small college conferences, there still seems to be a notion among the public that those players aren’t as good as those coming from bigger name schools. Attention and recognition are good, but they don’t make a basketball player, and Alan Williams is ready to show that he can compete with anyone, from any school.
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Williams, a 6’8, 260 pound forward from California-Santa Barbara, has been one of the most dominant big men in basketball the past three years, averaging a double-double in points and rebounds each season, as well as being named First Team All-Big West, and winning the conference Player of the Year Award in 2014 after averaging 21.3 points, on 53.3 percent shooting, 11.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 2.4 blocks per game.
As a senior, Williams started off the season by putting up 22 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks against Kansas at Allen Field House. That was just one of sixteen double-doubles put up by Williams this past season, including games against Oregon, Oregon State, Mercer, and Colorado State. He finished the season averaging over 17 points and almost 12 rebounds per game, as well as 2 assists and 2 blocks, even when teams were focused on doing all they could to stop him.
The year before, Williams had games of 21 points and 9 rebounds versus UNLV, 23 and 8 versus UCLA, and 24 and 12 versus California. Williams may have played in the Big West, but his ability to dominate in the paint was consistent against any school he played, as those mentioned above clearly point out.
Now that his decorated college career is behind him, Williams is ready for the next step in his basketball career, though he is able to look back and see how the past four years have gotten him to this point. Williams credits changing his body since his freshman season as a strong development point for him, allowing him to adapt his game, even as teams prepared to make it difficult for him.
With a pro career on the horizon, Williams knows what parts of his game will be most attractive to NBA teams. “The biggest thing is my ability to rebound,” explained Williams. “I’m capable of a double-double with my ability to score and rebound, and my game translates to any level. Plus, I’m an intelligent player that works well with all types of players, and the intangibles definitely help.”
Williams also knows that he can’t just rely on what he’s done in the past, so he’s been training in Los Angeles on some key areas of his game. “I’ve been working on being able to knock down the mid-range jumper consistently,” said Williams. “I need to be able to step out and shoot it with confidence at the next level.”
The NBA Draft is less than a month away, and Williams was among those invited to the NBA Pre-Draft Combine in Chicago. “The combine was a great experience, and it was a great honor to be out there, included among so many very good players,” Williams said. “A big part of it was showing my ability to compete, and that I can play with all of the others players who were there.”
While showing off his skill at the combine, Williams also had the chance to interview with NBA teams, including Orlando, Chicago, and San Antonio. As he gets one step closer to getting to the NBA, Williams has a good idea of how his size and skill can help a team.
“Any role they need me to play, I can handle it,” said Williams. “Whether it’s to defend and stop opposing big men, rebounding, I am willing and able to handle it while I continue on developing my offensive game.”
As for Williams’ thoughts on coming from a smaller conference, he doesn’t see any issue. “I don’t like to see playing in a smaller conference as a disadvantage, but more of a speed bump to where I want to go,” said Williams. “I’ve always strived to break through the “mid-major” label, and it all motivates me more to prove what I can do.”
In recent years, the power forward position in the NBA has gone through some changes, especially with the “stretch 4” who can knock down long-range jumpers becoming more prominent. That doesn’t worry Williams though. “Blue collar basketball can never go out of style,” said Williams. “Guys who can defend, block, and rebound like true power forwards will always find a place to play.”
Williams’ journey to show NBA teams what he can do to make them better starts with workouts with Dallas and Sacramento, among others. “I’m ready to show teams that I’m a smart, hard-working player who is ready to play right away,” said Williams. “I don’t need stats, I’m there to win games, and with my desire to fill and execute any role, I can be an asset to any team.”
It doesn’t hurt that Williams has also been one of college basketball’s best rebounders the past few years. Flash sells tickets, but choosing substance over style is what makes winning teams, and that’s exactly where Williams can make his mark.
Williams knows he still has work to do to reach his goals, but having to prove he belongs shouldn’t be part of it. He does belong, and if you don’t believe it, just watch him.
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