Mike Williams will get his chance to prove all the doubters wrong and show that he’s fit for a Division-I team in a major conference.
The Bishop Loughlin rising senior guard took a step towards that goal by committing to play basketball for Rutgers and head coach Eddie Jordan.
Rutgers was one of the first big schools to believe in Williams, after Scarlet Knights assistant coach Van Macon took notice. Before that, the 6-foot-2 sharpshooter had received mostly mid-major interest until the likes of St. John’s, Creighton and Virginia came on late to join Dayton, Iowa, Temple and Fordham among others.
“A lot of people didn’t believe in him,” Loughlin coach Ed Gonzalez said. “He was a late bloomer. He just works his tail off.”
It’s his work ethic and desire to compete on the court that make Williams stand out, along with the finesse of his shooting stroke — arguably the best in the city. That’s what caught my eye and had me telling people the perception of him was wrong.
Williams gives his maximum effort on every play, is an underrated defender, and an excellent athlete. Gonzalez couldn’t quite put his finger on why people undervalued the talent of Williams, who plays his travel ball with the New York Lightning.
“Mike is a quiet kid,” Gonzalez said. “I call him the quiet assassin. He’s a blue collar working in a white-collar environment. He does all the stuff to make it happen. I really don’t know. Maybe his size, but his heart is so big.”
Maybe it was because until last season he was just one of a number of talented players on the Lions roster. Backcourt mate Khadeen Carrington is the team’s highly sought-after star, holding offers from St. John’s, UConn, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and a host of others. Williams, Carrington, and Elisha Boone, who transferred out, made up a talented trio as sophomores. Last season Williams and Carrington became a dynamic duo, with Williams often carrying the load.
“He proved that he belonged with these guys,” Gonzalez said of Williams, about his standing with the area’s top talent.
Williams averaged 19.8 points per game last season. He netted 17 in a Catholic Class AA semifinal win over Stepinac, and dropped in 23 points as Loughlin fell to Christ the King in the title game, its first since 2010.
Gonzalez believes that will continue in his senior year, and heading into the Big Ten conference at Rutgers.
“He’ll be fine,” Gonzalez said. “Mike’s role is to shoot and put the ball in the hole. And he does that very well.”Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewsk