Next Simeon Star May Be D.J. Williams

Coach Robert Smith continues to produce outstanding basketball players at Chicago Simeon. Besides headliners like Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn, who have helped the Wolverines to three straight state championships, younger players are rising up to continue the legacy. D.J. Williams may be their next star.

D.J. Williams just completed his freshman year at Chicago Simeon, but he's already had exposure at higher levels of play.

"I played mostly with the sophomore team during the year. It went good; we lost in the second round of the playoffs. Then I got to go up with the varsity and win a state championship."

Williams proved his potential by being one of ten players selected for the Simeon Class 4-A state championship roster. He didn't play in either the semifinal or finale, but the experience will last a lifetime.

"It was real fun, especially being in the hotel after we won, being up all night. It was a good feeling with the brothers."

Playing behind star players gives him an excellent example to follow. Plus, it's a lot of fun playing with future college stars.

"Yeah, especially Steve Taylor, Jabari Parker, Kendrick Nunn. There's a long list."

The slender 6'-6" athlete has good ball handling skills and an excellent outside shot. He describes his game.

"My game is getting better overall, especially my jump shot, ball handling and defense. I'm very versatile. I'm smooth and can do a lot of things inside and outside."

Of course, he is far from a finished prospect at this early stage in his career.

"I want to work on my strength, my defense, my athletic ability. Pretty much everything. I've been working really hard in practice."

Parker, considered the #1 player in the 2013 class, has one more high school year to play. After that, Williams might be the one to replace him. He's not concerned about following a legacy...yet.

"It feels good. It's not a pressure right now. It will be more over the next two summers, to get my team as good as we've been the last three years."

As is true with most of the younger AAU teams, the Meanstreets 15U squad is full of guards. As one of the tallest players, Williams has to play out of position on the inside frequently. It limits his options at times.

"We're running short on bigs, so for us to win, I have to play down low. I don't get many chances."

Simeon was one of the first stops new Illinois coach John Groce made after he was hired. Williams was one of several players on his mind.

"The Illinois coaches came to my school. They have a good coaching staff. I'll have to go down there for a visit."

He likes what he has heard about Groce's preferred attacking style.

"It sounds like it fits my game."

Williams's support group includes a devoted mother, seen recently wearing a shirt with "Team D.J." emblazoned on the back. That support will help him make wise decisions as he matures and considers his college options.

Illini Inquirer Top Stories