Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Player Profile Series: Jai Williams

Tonight, we roll on with our Player Profile Series, taking a closer look at junior post Jai Williams. Through five games so far this season, Williams is averaging a career-best 8.3 minutes per game, and being productive in those minutes. St. Joe's assistant coach Dave Duda adds insight into Williams' development.

Jai Williams attended Philadelphia's Electric and Technology Charter School and became the first of several Philadelphia natives to commit to St. Joe's.  Williams committed to the Hawks as a member of the 2013 recruiting class alongside DeAndre Bembry.  Williams redshirted the 2013-2014 season, and is now in his third season of eligibility.  Since Williams came to Hawk Hill, St. Joe's has brought in Chris Clover, Lamarr Kimble, and Charles Brown from within city limits.

Williams played in 14 games as a redshirt freshman in 2014-2015, then in just 4 games a year ago as a sophomore.  This season, Williams has seen live game action in four of the Hawks' first five games.  He had a season-best 6 points and 2 rebounds in 10 minutes of action against NC State Monday night. Williams, Markell Lodge, and Javon Baumann are sharing the 40 minutes at the five spot this season, with Lodge starting and Williams and Baumann coming off the bench. With Pierfrancesco Oliva out for the season with an injury and the graduations of Isaiah Miles and Papa Ndao, it's an inexperienced Hawk front court, but one where Williams will fill a role.

Hawk assistant coach Dave Duda credited Jai for his transformation since arriving on Hawk Hill.  "He deserves props for getting his body in the best shape he has ever been in," Duda began.  "He came in close to 300 pounds, but he's down to 240.  That is big for anyone.  He now has to get the slice of pie that he deserves for all that work."

Markell Lodge is hands-down the most athletic player in the Hawk front court.  He has showcased that already this season with high-flying alley-oops and blocks.  Javon Baumann has the most fundamental approach to the game, and he also has the most collegiate experience.  What does Williams bring? "He has the best set of hands of the bigs," Coach Duda stated.  Williams also has the softest touch.  Despite an extremely, extremely limited sample size, Williams is 10-15 from the free throw line in his college career, good for 67%. That's far and away the best percentage of the three bigs.

At 6'9, 240, Jai Williams has the size and hands to be a productive piece of this year's Hawk front court.  He has already done more in four games of action this year than he did all of last year.  Minutes will be there.  Now it's up to Jai to get that slice of the pie.


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