Williams Shines in Opener

With so many talented seniors on the Simeon roster last year, DJ Williams didn't get as many minutes as he would have on almost any other team in Chicago, but at the Chicago Elite Classic, he proved that he's ready to carry the torch for the Wolverines moving forward.

Most teams that lose a starting five of Jabari Parker, Kendrick Nunn, Jaylon Tate, Kendall Pollard, and Russell Woods would have a huge void of talent that would take quite a while to fill. But Simeon in Chicago didn't skip a beat. And while they don't have a Jabari Parker on the roster, they have several skilled players, most notably Illinois 2015 commit D.J. Williams.

Williams is one of the players leading the charge in keeping Simeon among the state's elite teams.

Considering that it was Simeon's season opener combined with the fact that it was a whole new cast, the Wolverines looked to be in midseason form in a decisive win over Memphis's Hamilton High School at the Chicago Elite Classic.

"We wanted to win by as much as possible," Williams said. "We don't want to let up. We want to win big and it was a great game."

One of the biggest hurdles this past offseason for SImeon was determining not only a team identity, but how each player would fit into the overall team chemistry. Williams insisted that while they lost lots of great players, that it's still a talented and well-balanced team.

"We had to find out everyone's role," he said. "We still have a lot of weapons. All of these guys could go division one."

For Williams, figuring out his role and his major contribution was easy. On top of the skills he brings to the table, one thing in particular came to mind when he was examining his role prior to the season.

"Leadership," he said. "This is my third year playing varsity so I need to be a leader and help this team by being a leader."

Williams looked far-improved over the D.J. Williams of last year. He was more aggressive, had better quickness, and played much more under control. A lot of that can be attributed to extensive offseason workouts.

"I tried to gain weight and add strength," Williams said. "I got in the gym and worked on my shooting, my ball handling, and really everything. I just want to keep getting better and be one of the best players in the country right now."

Such a versatile player, Williams can play both inside and outside depending on the lineup Simeon has on the floor. For that reason, Williams worked out at almost every position during the offseason in preparation for whatever may come his way.

"I worked on my post game, my perimeter game, my ball handling, and my defense this offseason," he said.

Williams also appeared to have great chemistry with 2016 guard Zach Norvell. Norvell, who is another future high-major player, connected with Williams several times, and the two seem to be forming a dynamic duo on the court.

"Zach and I have lunch together so all we talk about is basketball, basketball, basketball," he said. "It's a great thing. I'm close with the whole team and we all practice hard and push each other."

Typically, Simeon players have waited until their senior year to commit to a program, but Williams couldn't wait any more. He knew where he wanted to go, and he felt like an early commitment to Illinois would allow him to pay more attention to his responsibilities to his team at Simeon.

"I just wanted to get it out of the way. I knew the school I wanted to go to. I fell in love with Illinois the first time I went down there. This helps me worry about my junior and senior year now," he said.

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