Erik Williams, Still Committed to Marquette

Erik Williams, the talented 6'7 wing forward from Cypress Springs, TX committed to Marquette prior to the 2007-08 season. While Tom Crean's departure and Buzz Williams' arrival has some recruits looking elsewhere, Williams remains strongly committed to Marquette

In the midst of the whirlwind coaching change at Marquette University earlier this month, Erik Williams of Cypress Springs High School near Houston knew he would have a choice to make.

Does he go with former Marquette coach Tom Crean to Indiana University or does he stay verbally committed to Marquette and play for new coach Buzz Williams?

It didn't take long for Williams to make up his mind.

Despite a strong recruiting pitch for Indiana from Crean, Williams says he has opted to remain loyal to his pledge to Marquette, due in large part to his relationship with Buzz Williams, who was hired to replace Crean on April 7.

"Despite everything that has gone on, I remain strongly committed to Marquette University," Erik Williams said. "Coach Crean is a great person and coach, but the more I thought about it, I committed to Marquette because of everything that it stands for and has to offer. In the south, everything is football. At Marquette, basketball is the main focus."

Williams said his relationship with Buzz Williams also played a large role in his decision to remain committed to Marquette.

"Buzz Williams is a great guy and he really built a strong relationship with me," Erik Williams said. "I have spoken to Chris Otule and we both feel the same way, we are 100 percent confident that Buzz Williams will do a great job as the head coach at Marquette."

Otule is a 6-10, 240-pound post player from Bush High School in Sugar Land, Texas, who will join the Marquette program next season.

Cypress Springs coach John Harmatuk believes Erik Williams remained committed to Marquette because of his comfort level with Buzz Williams.

"When Erik found out Buzz got the job, it didn't take long for him to make a decision," Harmatuk said. "It's all about relationships because you are going to spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week with the guy. For Erik, Marquette and Buzz Williams was a comfort decision.

"Marquette is getting a tireless worker in Buzz Williams. He is just like Tom Crean in that respect. Buzz does a great job of building relationships with kids and they trust him."

Another factor that played a prominent role in Williams' decision to stick with Marquette is the type of education the school offers.

"Erik's parents really value a Jesuit education," Harmatuk said. "Erik went to a Jesuit school (Strake Jesuit) as a freshman. His parents are very impressed with Marquette as a university, first and foremost."

Ranked No. 44 nationally in the recently updated player rankings for the class of 2009 by Scout.com, Williams is an athletic 6-foot-7 wing player who was having a monster season for Cypress Springs before sustaining a season-ending broken foot in practice on Jan. 1.

With Williams in the lineup, Cypress Springs put together a 20-2 record through the end of December. Cypress Springs had just defeated nationally ranked Montverde Academy of Florida in the Houston vs. The Nation event behind a 24-point effort from Williams before he suffered his injury.

"Erik was really, really blossoming when he went down," Harmatuk said. "Montverde has a lineup bigger than Marquette's and Erik played fanstastic in that game. In our next game (against St. Thomas More), Erik had 28 points. Then he got injured."

Williams averaged 18.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.1 blocked shots per contest for Cypress Springs, which finished the season with a 31-7 record.

Since breaking his left foot, Williams has spent a great deal of time trying to improve his strength by lifting weights and, more recently, working on his skill development.

"Marquette is getting a 6-7 wing -- a true two or three guard type – who can handle the ball and really shoot it," Harmatuk said. "Erik is one of the two or three best players in Texas and a top fifty player nationally. He's also a great shot blocker."

Williams said he does not plan to play AAU basketball this spring and summer and instead plans to concentrate his time lifting weight and developing his skills.

"I was originally going to play on the AAU circuit with Houston Select, but with my injury, I am going to hold off, take things slow and build up to be ready for next year's high school season," he said. "I had broken the fifth metetarcel in my foot and am getting closer to being back to 100 percent. I'm just not there yet."


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