There's a lot of upside in the game of Da'Monte Williams.
Will he reach that ceiling is another issue that I think most fans of Illinois would love the answer to. Now, this is not an article about comparing Williams to his famous Illini legend father. There are striking similarities that need to be addressed, however. And major differences.
Let's start by breaking down that ceiling we referred to.
Best Case Scenario:
Da'Monte Williams throws his father's shadow to the side and becomes his own player: the 3 and D guy. This is what everyone envisioned for Aaron Jordan.
However, I feel as though Williams was perfectly tailored for this role. He proved early on in the season that he can defend, earning the praise of Brad Underwood for his tenacity and dog mentality throughout practice and early in the non-conference schedule. He also showed a knack for knocking down the three early on.
Now, as the season progressed, his minutes slowly dissipated due to typical freshman struggles, but the talent is there to be exactly what Underwood wants in a combo guard/reserve role.
Worst Case Scenario:
He disappears and never truly finds his niche within the parameters of the spread offense, a la early season Te’Jon Lucas. Now Lucas found his footing later on in the season, but boy was he invisible throughout the early season stint.
Da'Monte doesn't play the same position, of course, but one can argue that guard play within this system is interchangeable. Illinois simply can't afford players to disappear when they're on the court. Even small contributions, a pass here, or a tip-drill rebound there can make a colossal difference in a tight game. Da'Monte has all the talent in the world, but he needs to keep that motor running, as it was early on in this past season.
Overall, I feel Williams could be one of the biggest beneficiaries of this offense, and he could be due for a huge leap in production given the current roster disposition. It's all on him to reach that ceiling.
Throw off Dad's shadow, Da'Monte. Let's see what you can do.