There are a lot of new names on the West Virginia men’s basketball roster this year, but one that’s already standing out through three games is true freshman forward Devin Williams.
In just his third-ever collegiate appearance Sunday, Williams recorded his first career double-double putting in 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds. The performance set a new career-high for Williams in scoring, and he came up just one board shy of his total from the season opener against Mount St. Mary’s.
“I have to focus ... I’m trying to figure out where I’m at on the court and how I fit in,” Williams said. “(I’m) trying to get mentally prepared. I found my focus. I just have to get shots.
“I (have to) continue to work on my game even when I’m beat down like this tomorrow. I’ve got to get in there and get at least 15-30 minutes.”
Williams has already proven to be West Virginia’s most physical post player through those three games and has been an especially big boost for the Mountaineers on the glass.
This is especially significant after both of WVU’s two highest-touted rebounders, Elijah Macon and Jonathan Holton, were declared ineligible to play this season.
“Devin (Williams) is doing what we thought (he) could do,” said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. “We thought (he) could come in and rebound the ball at this level, and I think he’s shown he can do that. Thank God he is, because we’re losing the battle of the glass every game.”
But Huggins also said Williams obviously still has a lot of room to improve, especially when it comes to guarding his man on the defensive end.
“He just gets himself in bad positions because he takes some plays off,” Huggins said. “He’s got to understand how hard you’ve got to play for how long you’ve got to play.”
Williams’ teammate and sophomore guard Eron Harris said that although Williams has indeed played well thus far, the freshman is still just scratching the surface of his future potential for the Mountaineers.
“That was good for Devin,” Harris said. “He just needs to start trying to find out where he’s going to get his easy buckets.
“He’s humongous, so once he learns the game, he’s going to be a monster.”
But despite being 6-foot-9 and 255 pounds, Williams is also capable of scoring from 10-15 feet away from the basket on a regular basis, although West Virginia’s existing array of perimeter shooters may affect how many jump shots per game Williams ends up taking.
Free throws, on the other hand, have been a bit of a problem for the freshman. Getting to the line doesn’t seem to be the problem so much as making them at this point, as Williams has earned 18 total trips to the line so far but has only converted half of them.
“I’m just going to keep going forward,” Williams said. “I’ve got to use my strength and use my quickness and just stay mentally prepared. As the season goes on, I’m going to get better.
“I’m going to have to step up, because the competition’s going to step up.”