Williams looks to bring 'new wave' of Point Guard U to Arizona

Sofia Moraga | The Daily Wildcat Arizona's Brandon Williams, 2, goes up for the layup during the Arizona-Chaminade exhibition game on Sunday, Nov. 4 at the McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz.

Steve Kerr, Jason Terry, Mike Bibby, Damon Stoudamire, Jason Gardner, T.J. McConnell and now, Brandon Williams?

The first six have etched their names into Arizona men’s basketball history as legendary point guards. Now Williams, a Los Angeles native, looks to join them. Williams comes to town as the highest-ranked point guard (No. 34 overall, No. 8 PG per 247Sports) to join Arizona since Nick Johnson in 2011. 

“I’m trying to bring in that new tradition. That new tradition of having new five-star guards come in here, leading that new wave. I think that’s big, especially with everything that happened off the court,” Williams said.

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Notice the mention of five-star guards. Williams, initially rated as a five-star guard heading into his junior year at Crespi High School, missed the entire season due to a genetic problem in his right knee that caused an injury and eventually led him to have corrective surgery in January 2017. The injury allowed other high school stars to leapfrog Williams in recruiting races, and a star was dropped from his ranking. 

Men's bball v Chaminade
Arizona's Brandon Williams, 2, drives through the key during the Arizona-Chaminade exhibition game on Sunday, Nov. 4 at the McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz.

“That was really tough for me,” the 6-foot-2 guard said. “[The surgery] was something I had to get done then rather than now so I won’t miss time when I’m in college.”

Now with a chip on his shoulder, Williams readies himself for a difficult assignment as a freshman: playing multiple positions. With transfer guard Justin Coleman expected to handle the majority of the minutes at point guard, Williams will start the season as a shooting guard. But when Coleman comes off the court, Williams will take over as the offense’s signal caller. 

“I’m the type of guy that doesn’t need to play the 1 or has to play the 2, I’m the type of guy that goes out there and plays basketball,” Williams said of his role.

“Playing with Brandon Williams, he’s a prolific scorer so he makes my job a lot easier,” Coleman said. “It’s also a lot more exciting to play with a guy like him.”

The two have already agreed that when they share the court, it’s “unfair” for opponents because of the way they feed off each other.

“He’s gonna be one of the better scorers to ever play at Arizona,” Coleman said.

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If you watch Williams long enough, you can see flashes of two NBA players he models his game after: Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard.

“Kyrie just because of how smart he is … just putting the ball in the basket,” Williams said. “Same with Damian Lillard. He can shoot really anywhere on the court. Coming off ball screens, he’s really smart at that.”

Through two exhibition games and the season opener, Williams has already showcased his ability to put the ball in the basket and do it from anywhere, hitting four 3-pointers against Chaminade University and averaging 16.7 points in three contests. 

Men's bball v Chaminade
Arizona's Brandon Williams, 2, goes up for the layup during the Arizona-Chaminade exhibition game on Sunday, Nov. 4 at the McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz.

As for an Arizona player Williams wants to be like, it’s a familiar name for Wildcats fans. The freshman chose Parker Jackson-Cartwright because of his ability to be a team leader and an important part of a team for four years.

Williams’ vision of the new wave of Point Guard U is also taking shape for future seasons as five-star point guard Nico Mannion, the top point guard in 2019 class per 247Sports, looks to follow in Williams’ footsteps.

But Arizona has this season right in front of them, a team replacing all five starters from last year, and the ‘Cats will need to find a new identity. Don’t be surprised if Williams becomes the face of the program when it’s all said and done.

“He has a big role on this team,” Miller said. “We’re getting him ready for that role.” 

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