Williams on edge of rotation

Redshirt freshman is striving to earn regular playing time with the Badger men's basketball team

DeAaron Williams stands on the fringe of regular playing time with the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team.

The 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman guard/forward has played 23 minutes this season, but they all came in UW's comfortable wins over Norfolk State (8) and Coastal Carolina (15). In tight ballgames against Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion and Wake Forest, Williams did not play.

"I'm close. Coach has been saying I'm close," Williams said. "The assistant coaches saying I'm close. I'm just trying to keep working hard everyday in practice so I can get my shot in there."

UW head coach Bo Ryan has effectively employed a nine-man rotation early this season. Williams' task is to turn it into a 10-man rotation.

"Hopefully I can. Coaches, they want me to do it," Williams said. "I mean it's all on me. It's all on how I do in practice… That's why my goal is to just keep working hard in practice."

How does Williams think he can help the Badgers?

"I think I can add a lot of things," he said. "I think I can add defense, rebounding. I feel like I can add whatever they need me to do. Whatever they need me to do, I'm there for it. I'm ready to do it. I'm ready to take on the challenge."

Williams is an exceptionally athletic player, who in practice shows the potential for becoming a special defensive player. His offensive game is still raw, but with his phenomenal leaping ability he can have success when he attacks the basket. He worked on his shot diligently through his redshirt year and continues to do so.

"(The coaches) still talking to me about my shooting a little bit," he said. "They just want me to use my athleticism to get offensive rebounds. Just stay on the boards and just try to create. That's really it."

Williams feels that if he can do the little things in practice, then he can earn playing time in games. Perhaps that is why he seemingly sacrificed life and limb to hustle after a rebound in practice Thursday. His momentum sent him crashing into a teammate and he fell hard on his back. Williams smiled when reminded of the play. He was fine, having bounced right back up.

"Just whatever they need me to do," he said, when asked what he needs to show the coaches in order to crack the rotation. "Just do the little things. Get deflections, loose balls, just hustle stuff. Try to get hustle points."

Williams is, of course, only five games into his freshman season. He has been productive when given the opportunity, with 15 points and seven rebounds in his 23 minutes. The challenge is to earn the right to play in every game.

"There's no frustration at all," Williams said. "When I get my chance I just want to compete… Until then I'm just going to keep working hard in practice and keep my head up and just look forward."

Looking back, Williams feels he benefited from his redshirt year.

"I think I'm a lot smarter than I was last year," he said. "My IQ went up a lot. Just all different parts, like clicking with my teammates. Because I was all scout (team) last year so now I get a chance to really play with my teammates now. That's a lot of fun."

Thursday, Williams split time in practice between the scout team and the first team.

"It's been like that a lot more lately," he said. "I guess I'm working harder and doing better. Just getting the feel for it more, like since I've been in the games and got the experience and stuff like that.

"It's pretty much going back and forth now, which is a good thing. Just want to keep working so I can try to stay over there (with the first team) hopefully. If not, it's cool though… I mean I always have time. I'm still young. I'm still a freshman."


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