Player Profile: Jai Williams

Jai Williams' name is one that St. Joe's fans have been hearing for the better part of three years, yet the Philadelphia native has yet to play a minute of college hoops. After red-shirting last season, Williams is in the best shape of his life and ready to contribute for Phil Martelli's Hawks.

Jai Williams committed to St. Joe's as a member of the 2013 recruiting class out of Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter (PA). The 6'9 big man only played roughly half of his senior season before sustaining season-ending injuries. While injured, Williams packed on weight, entering Hawk Hill north of 300 pounds.

The West Philadelphia native took a redshirt year last year, and took advantage of that time to get his body back into basketball shape. Williams has shed in excess of 40 pounds, getting himself down to 260 pounds, and in turn looks like a different person. And he's playing like a different person as well.

As a junior at PET, Jai Williams averaged 10.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game in the Philadelphia Public League. In turn, he saw recruiting interest from the likes of Drexel, La Salle, VCU, and more. Williams' lead recruiter at St. Joe's was assistant coach Geoff Arnold, and the location and familiarity at SJU played a large role in his eventual commitment to the Hawks.

The biggest development with Jai Williams is the transformation of his body. "He's done a great job getting his body back into basketball shape," St. Joe's assistant coach Dave Duda told Hawk Hill Hardwood. "He's not all the way there yet, but strides are being made every day."

While sophomore Javon Baumann is your likely starter at center this season, Jai Williams has given himself an opportunity to really fight for minutes in the post. With his body in the best shape of his career, Williams is running the floor much more smoothly and is more explosive off his feet. "Jai has a great opportunity to fight for minutes in the post," Duda explained. "Now he has to be able to swing together good days without any setbacks."

Jai Williams will be competing with Javon Baumann and Obi Romeo for minutes at the 5 this year for the Hawks. While Baumann is ahead of Williams at this moment, Jai has certainly done a lot to cement himself as that first option off the bench for the Hawks.

Our Player Profile series will roll on tomorrow with a look at one of the most pivotal players on this year's Hawk squad, junior shooting forward Isaiah Miles.

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