Redshirt suits Williams

Freshman forward wants to get physically stronger, improve shooting

The contraption resembling a plastic plate that adorned DeAaron Williams' left hand Sunday spoke clearly to one of his desired areas of improvement.

Williams, a 6-foot-4 true freshman small forward from Bartonville, Ill., decided to redshirt this season prior to the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team's season opener Saturday.

"I just thought that it was a very good move for me," Williams said. "I just needed time to physically grow and just develop."

Part of that equation is improving his physical strength; part is working on fundamentals, such as the mechanics of his jump shot.

That's where Williams' unique shooting aide—a circular piece of plastic about the size of a standard paper plate—came into play Sunday. Williams wore the plate on his left hand during perimeter shooting drills towards the end of practice.

The purpose, Williams said, was "to get my left hand off the ball when I shoot cause usually I get my other hand on the ball a lot… It just helps me guide the ball."

"I saw [assistant coach Greg Gard] pull it out the other day but I'd never seen that device," senior guard Clayton Hanson said.

Williams said he particularly wants to improve his three-point shooting.

"Just getting the right lift and just keeping my hand off the ball and just getting it aligned with the rim…stop it from going left to right, concentrate more on being short or long instead of having so many problems with it," Williams said. "That's helping me out a lot."

Williams first began contemplating the redshirt about a week before the Badgers' first exhibition game and chose to sit out the two exhibitions to give himself more time to consider his options. He consulted closely with his parents before making his final decision.

"It's hard playing basketball for four years, being a so-called star for four years and then all of a sudden coming into a Big Ten university," Williams said. "I just realized that I need another year."

"My parents, they were very supportive of me," Williams said. "I thank them for helping me. I think it was the right decision.

"I want to work on definitely getting stronger. The Big Ten is a strong conference… And just learning the system, just getting a better understanding and working with my team and getting better with my teammates."

Williams is an exciting athlete—only Alando Tucker has a higher vertical jump at UW—who has been productive in practice.

"He is a player. He is athletic and he fits right well in the system," freshman guard Michael Flowers said. "Obviously he thinks that he needs more time to develop and he's not ready…. Whether he comes out of his redshirt this year or he plays next year he is going to be a player to reckon with."

"We all have the understanding that it's his decision. He's going to do what's best for him and we respect anything he decides," Hanson said.

The Badgers have a bevy of wing players, so Williams may not have received consistent minutes. That calculation, however, does not appear to be at the forefront of Williams' decision.

"I just really thought that I needed a year just to develop and get used to things," Williams said. "I need to work on my jump shot…Just other little skills that I have to pick up that maybe I didn't have this year but I could have them next year by working this extra year."

Before the Badgers began practice Williams was considered the least likely of Wisconsin's three true freshmen to redshirt. Williams, though, chose to take the year while center Greg Stiemsma and guard Michael Flowers elected to play this season.

"I had to think about what would be better for me in the long run as a true freshman coming in or a fifth-year senior—how much better I could be five years from now," Williams said.

He said he would consider removing the redshirt if injuries or other circumstances created a situation where the coaching staff felt they needed him.

"If they really need me to step in and do something, I'll do it…I'll do what's in the best interest for the team," Williams said.

Williams also said the redshirt would give him an opportunity to adjust to college life in general.

"I can focus on my grades a lot more," he said. "Make sure everything is in check for me. I still think it was a win-win situation."

"It can't hurt me at all," Williams said. "Another year will help."


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