It was clear during July that Malik Williams was a top priority for Louisville. Louisville boss Rick Pitino spent the entire final evaluation period in Orlando tracking Williams, and with good reason.
Quite simply Williams is one of the most naturally gifted prospects in the entire 2017 national class. Currently he ranks No. 30 overall, but he has the upside to be significantly higher than that.
What most stands out about Williams is his combination of size, length, and athleticism. At this point Williams is every bit of 6-foot-10, and might even be a tick taller than that. He has a 7-foot plus wingspan, and then also has the ability to move like a guard. In fact he runs the floor as well as any big in the nation, and then on defense should be very good in ball screen situations with his ability to move his feet laterally.
Given that Louisville likes to play a pressing style of defense, Williams should fit in at the back end of the press. Not only is Williams long and athletic, but he also shows good timing when it comes to blocking shots. Williams is a natural blocking shots from the weak side, and then also he shows the ability to block shots on the ball as well. This will even improve as he continues to get stronger and is better able to handle the physicality of the game.
On offense Williams has a unique skill set. While he is 6-foot-10, he is neither comfortable nor all that effective around the rim. You almost never see Williams post up, and he prefers to play like a perimeter player.
The first, and most impressive, thing about Williams is his ability to shoot the ball. He has a very smooth and consistent release, and that allows him to shoot a good percentage from beyond the arc. While he isn’t going to be confused with Kevin Durant with his ability to shoot, he is definitely a threat beyond the arc, and he can create mismatches with that ability.
Also during the month of July, Williams showed a much better ability to attack the rim. During the Under Armour Finals, Williams made very impressive drives, and showed an improved handle and more desire to attack the basket. As this part of his game continues to develop he will be even a bigger problem for defenders.
If there is one area where Williams absolutely has to improve on, it is his rebounding. At times he can be solid as a rebounder, but too often he shows very little desire to go get the ball. Now he did show improvement with this in July, but he is still inconsistent on the glass.
Overall Williams is one of the top long term prospects. If Louisville finds a way to keep his motor running hot all the time, and improve as a rebounder, he could be one of the most complete power forwards in the country before his time in college is over.