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Maryland men's basketball season recap: Jordan Williams

This week, Terrapins Insider will take a look back on the 2009-10 Maryland men’s basketball season from an individual standpoint. We’ll discuss how each player’s year went and look ahead to his role on the team going forward. Readers are encouraged to provide their thoughts in the comments section below or email them to yandas@washpost.com.

There were times near the end of the season when the most pertinent question regarding freshman forward Jordan Williams seemed to be: Exactly how broad are the kid’s shoulders? By the time Maryland took on Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA tournament, you darn near expected Williams to tally a double-double every night. And given the freshman season he had, those expectations weren’t entirely overblown.

Against the Spartans, Williams registered 10 points and 10 rebounds. Against Houston in the first round, Williams recorded 21 points and 17 rebounds. Against Georgia Tech, he tallied seven points and seven rebounds – and five of those rebounds came on the offensive glass. If any of you thought at the season’s outset that Williams would end up being one of Maryland’s most consistent performers throughout the 2009-10 campaign, go ahead and give yourself a lengthy pat on the back.

When the season began, Williams was viewed as a stopgap, someone to keep Dino Gregory’s spot in the starting lineup warm until the junior forward returned from his eight-game suspension for academic misconduct. Williams possessed size and a load of potential, but questions loomed. Sure, he was a prolific scorer in high school, but the league in which he played in Connecticut was pretty weak, right? How would his skills translate at the Division I level?

Williams was forced to answer the latter question nearly immediately. At the Maui Invitational he matched up against the sizable frontcourts of Wisconsin and Cincinnati and held his ground. And that encouraging sign was followed shortly thereafter by his performance against Villanova in the BB&T Classic. Against the Wildcats, Williams finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds. By the time Gregory was eligible to play, Williams had proven to be a viable starter for the Terrapins, someone who might be able to exceed to just-defend-and-rebound parameters set for him by his coaches and teammates.

After Gregory received two courtesy starts in mid-December, Williams was plugged back into the starting lineup and remained there the rest of the way. Once ACC play began, Williams faced a string of imposing frontcourts – Florida State, Wake Forest and Clemson, to name a few – and he did not wither.

In fact, Williams’s scoring average increased during conference play, while his rebounding production held steady. Williams afforded Maryland the interior option the Terrapins did not possess the previous season. They could function in a more inside-out fashion, which opened up more offensive options in half-court sets.

Maryland needed a big man it could rely on, and the Terrapins certainly found one in Williams. When asked in late January what his expectations were for himself entering his freshman season, Williams said the following:

“I expected to come in and make an impact right away. I told people that in the summertime.”

Now, perhaps it was easy for him to say that after he had gotten off to such a solid start in ACC play, but still, Williams carries himself with such confidence to make you believe he actually was telling people last summer that he was going to make his presence felt immediately in one of the top conferences in the country.

His veteran teammates, many of whom initially were frustrated with Williams’s lack of understanding of Maryland’s offensive and defensive systems, praised the freshman frequently during the course of the season for the work he put into his craft. Coach Gary Williams offered praise for Williams along the same lines, as well.

Next season, Williams – who finished second to Georgia Tech forward Derrick Favors in ACC rookie of the year voting – will take on a much larger role with the Terrapins. He very well could be the team’s cornerstone in 2010-11. It would seem likely that Williams will continue to tone up his 6-foot-10, 260-pound frame this offseason and improve his game, as well.

How broad are Jordan Williams’s shoulders? His performance this season might only have offered an indication. The full answer likely will be revealed next winter.

By Steve Yanda  |  March 31, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Comments

Jordan Williams has a world of potential, but it seems even the best players hit a sophomore slump. I think any performance equal to what the Terps got from JW this season will be exactly what the Terps could use next season. He will start commanding double-teams from opponents, which will free up other players, especially since they won't have that experienced sharpshooter on the perimeter like they've had the past 2 seasons (Hayes).

Jordan needs to work over the summer at gaining a few more post moves and a resemblance of a shot outside of 5 feet. A nice hook and fade away would go a long way in making him one of the best post players in the ACC. The biggest thing the Terps need from JW is to not regress. Even sustaining what he gave this past season will go a long way in making the Terps a real threat in the ACC next season.

Posted by: Russtinator | March 31, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

From unheralded prospect to All ACC Rookie team, just another in a seemingly endless series of great recruits that Gary got.

Posted by: Barno1 | March 31, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Russ -

I think Sophomore slump more applies to finesse players over power players in the post. A hook shot would be a great addition to his arsenal. I agree that sustaining his production is the most important factor for the Terps chances of success next year.

And Barno is correct in JW being yet another great recruit and has pointed out how low JW was rated by some of the services that do such ratings. I keep smiling every time I see Barno post.

Someone will have to step up and become a designated sharpshooter - Tucker or Bowie seems to be the most likely, although if Bowie is handling the point it might be difficult for him to deliver in that role. Then again, at least a few of the freshmen are going to have to contribute and will do so.

The upside on JW is humongous.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | March 31, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

NO WAY he is 6'10

Posted by: matthewrayman | March 31, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Jordan was a heck of a find by Gary and his staff. I love the way Gary year in and year out gets his team to play at a high level no matter how many seniors they lose.

Gary doesn't reload he just keeps developing the hell out of 4 year players. If he can get Cliff Tucker and Adrian Bowie to find consistency in their senior years then I think they will finish in the top third of the league next year.

Posted by: lavar609 | March 31, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Jordan Williams is the best post up Center at Maryland since Brian Williams. And he could easily surpass what Brian did at Maryland.

Posted by: dcinmd1 | March 31, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Some will argue Baxter. But me, I'll say Obinna was a monster posting up by the time his senior year was cut short by injury. People forget how good Obinna had become. He was THE best center in the ACC by then (this was before BTH stepped up his game at UNC)

Posted by: Barno1 | March 31, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

"How broad are Williams's shoulders?" is the appropriate question to ask going into next year. However, "Does this kid have a ceiling?" also comes to mind.

Watching Williams at the start of the season, I was impressed by him -- particularly his unbelievable hands, reminiscent of Lonny Baxter's -- but I thought his lack of athleticism would do him in come conference play. That struggle never came. He was a perpetual pleasant surprise.

It will be interesting to see how he fares once teams are no longer keying their game plans around Greivous and start taking him more into account. That said, I've seen nothing to suggest he can't handle it.

Probably the most exciting part is that he gets an off season in Maryland's conditioning program. Once he sheds some of the excess pounds and replaces them with muscle, I expect to see his athletic ability improve and for him to become dominant, as opposed to just imposing. This is just nit-picking of course, as he's already far surpassed expectations.

One thing he will need to work hard on is free throw shooting. With his soft hands and relatively nice touch around the basket, there's no reason he should be shooting under 60%. If next year's offense flows more through him, he will be going to the line a lot more frequently.

Posted by: AndJuan | March 31, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

I think the guy was better than LB as a freshman. The thing I'd like to see him improve on most is that 53% from the line. He's a load underneath and will find himself there a lot in years to come.

With stability in the assistant coaching ranks, MD is starting to pull in some quality recruits. The next year or two should be a true indicator of if the Terps can return to prominence in college basketball.

Posted by: kicknit | March 31, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I really liked the guy's heart, intelligence and soft hands in the paint. That said, I don't think he is the big the Terps need to make the Elite rounds of the NCAA tourney. Williams would be an awesome power forward with a true big man playing center. But I have to say I think Williams carried the Terps himself on a number of occasions and I am impressed with his performance as well as his character.

Posted by: mwr68 | April 1, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

williams played exceptionally well. he will probably be the leading scorer on the team next year. it would be nice if he had someone who could help him out on the boards and on defense next year. right now padgett is the only one who cold do this. dino isn't a good rebounder or passer and has no offensive game and at 5-7 better suited to play defense against a small forward.

Posted by: fkterp | April 1, 2010 6:28 AM | Report abuse

We still don't know when and where Goins had lunch and what he ate.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | April 1, 2010 6:57 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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