Ryan Easterling

Signing Day Spotlight: Da'Monte Williams

Illini Inquirer's breakdown of 2017 Illini signee Da'Monte Williams.


Scouting Report: Williams is a skilled and versatile combo guard, who at this point in his career looks more like an off-guard than a point at the high-major level. That has mostly to do with his handles and his quickness. But Williams can flat out make plays with the ball in his hands. He is at his best offensively off the bounce by driving towards the basket. He possesses a good amount of athleticism that allows him to get above the rim, and he can play through contact. Williams has the ability to knock down the outside shot, but he has yet to be consistent in that area. Consistency as a whole has been an issue. Sometimes, you won't notice he's on the floor. That comes from an inconsistent motor, streaky outside shot and unwillingness to assert himself offensively. His unselfishness can be a positive because he is a talented passer. But he's at his best when he is in attack mode. Everyone involved with Williams is trying to get more out of him in that area on a consistent basis. When you see him play like that, you see that he can be a big-time player.

First-year Impact: Williams will likely start off his career at Illinois as a backup two-guard behind Jalen Coleman-Lands. But he will have to earn those minutes against Aaron Jordan, who will have two years of Big Ten experience on him. But Williams is talented enough to find his way onto the court, and if the effort and intensity pieces click into place, he could make some nice contributions off the bench. It'd be reasonable to assume he'll play 10 or slightly more minutes per game as a freshman, while giving you a bucket and an assist here and there. Safe to bet on flashes of production in this season of learning and adjustment.

Ceiling: All-Big Ten and pro career. Williams may not get any All-American selections or Big Ten Player of the Year awards like his father, Frank, did at Illinois. But he definitely has a shot to be one of the best players in the Big Ten as an upperclassmen. If he can develop a consistent outside shot to go with cleaner handles, more explosion and a 'killer switch', he can be big-time. And he'll make money playing basketball after he's done in college.

Reminds Me Of: Brandon Paul. While their skill sets and game prototypes aren't the same, there are some similarities between Williams and Paul. They were both important but highly-gettable targets for Illinois. And quite simply, they can be the best players on the floor on a given night -- while falling off the map in others. They both can play on or off the ball. They are both streaky outside shooters. They can make plays in different ways, and their track for development could turn out to be pretty similar. Paul was an All-Big Ten selection his senior year, and he is in the midst of a pro career -- which included stints in the NBA Summer League and on the Philadelphia 76ers preseason roster. The major differences between their games is that Paul has more bounce and length. He is also more wired to look for his shot, while Williams hasn't shown that he wants to force the issue at the offensive end -- for better or worse.

Werner’s narrative: I almost see it as a good thing that Williams struggled last year and fell in the rankings. Fair or not, he will always be compared to his father -- one of the greatest and most entertaining players in Illinois history. Now, Williams enters a little bit under the radar with modest expectations. But the 6-foot-3 guard is the absolute X-factor in this class. If he finds a consistent motor, he has the potential to make the biggest impact of any player in this class. If he continues to idle, he could be the most disappointing.

Quote: "It makes me feel good putting on the jersey that my dad played in. At the same time, I'm just looking forward to going out there and playing my game. I just felt like it was the place for me to be.”

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