Under the radar no more

Continuing a series of articles in which our staff writers answer the question: "Which Marquette athlete are you most excited to watch this season?", we now hear the case for freshman Erik Williams.

Sifting through this year's preseason articles and previews, I can't help but notice a pretty big omission from the Marquette clippings.

Sure, I have seen mentions of freshmen Junior Cadougan and Jeronne Maymon, and of junior-college transfersDarius Johnson-Odom and Dwight Buycks. But rarely, if ever, have I see Erik Williams' name mentioned.

That's right, a consensus top-100 player is consistently being overlooked by writers, bloggers and fans alike.

Ironic because Williams is exactly the type of player MU fans have been thirsting for over the past few seasons – a long, athletic forward that can shoot the ball.

The Cypress Springs (Texas) HS standout first burst onto the scene in December of 2007 at the Houston vs. The Nation tournament, where he drew praise from Scout.com's Dave Telep:

"For the second day in a row, Williams played well. Against Saint Thomas he went for 28 points on 11-for-23 shooting that included a pair of three-pointers. He's certainly a capable shooter, but his bread is buttered by slashing to the basket, which he did throughout Cy Springs 4-point win..."

Williams' performance was impressive enough to land him on Telep's board as the 44th-best prospect in the country. Unfortunately, Williams did not play another game his junior season due to a broken foot.

Williams recovered, though, and put up impressive numbers during his senior season. He posted averages of 24.6 points, 11.7 rebounds and 6.1 blocks per game and was named player of the year by the Houston Area Boys Basketball Coaches Association.

The highlight of Williams season, statistically speaking, came in mid-February when, in a two-game span, he averaged 20.5 points, 11 rebounds, and 15 blocks per game.

With the injury limiting his exposure on the national recruiting stage, Williams played largely under the radar his senior season. But don't let that fool you into thinking he won't be an impact player at the college level.

Described by ESPN.com as a "big-time athlete", Williams' size, length, and ability to time the block, give him the tools to be an immediate force on defense for the Golden Eagles. His strength will have to improve, but the intangibles are there.

And because of his ability to shoot the ball, Williams will see more time on the court than most would expect. And while many project Williams as an off-the-bench contributor this season, I fully expect to see him in the starting lineup before the end of the year.

When the Golden Eagles step out on the court this season look for Williams to be making highlight plays on both the offensive and defensive end.

And expect him to be included in just about every blurb about MU basketball from here on out.

Which player performance are you most hotly anticipating? Join the discussion on our message board.

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