When thinking about Illinois, you hear Ayo Dosunmu, Kofi Cockburn, Adam Miller, and Trent Frazier, more than likely. Still, the fifth starter is one of the more important players on the entire roster.
That player is senior G/F Da’Monte Williams, a player who was regarded as an elite defender but offered nothing on offense, which is true. Williams’s career stats scoring-wise were 3.2 PPG, AND Williams shot a horrible 32% overall, and a somehow even worse 27.5% from deep in his first three seasons. Despite the offensive issues, Williams has played 16+ MPG in all three years and even earned a starting role last 2019-20. Williams’s season-high for threes was 13, a total that he hit on two different occasions.
As a senior, Da’Monte Williams is 14-20 from three, equaling 70%, and for players who have shot 20-or-more three’s this season, Williams has the best percentage with 2nd being Daryl Anderson, Of Norfolk State with who’s 14-22 (63.6%.) Only three players are shooting above 59%, with the third at 62% being Alex Barcello of BYU. Of all the 737 players in the country this season that has attempted twenty or more threes, Williams also has the lowest usage rate at 9.4. What does that mean? It could mean a few things. One is that Williams doesn’t force shots and takes them when needed, and the other could be that Brad Underwood needs to find a way to get him more attempts. It’s hard to tell if this is real or not since it hasn’t even been a part of Williams’s game, but Williams looked insanely confident when he gets the shots up with a solid stroke.
How does this development benefit Illinois you may ask?
In a big way, it gives the Illini more of the ability to spread-the-floor, and have someone that opposing teams won’t leave wide-open because the odds are that he wasn’t making them in his first three years. The Illini lost their top shooter from last year when Alan Griffin opted to transfer out to Syracuse, a void that was supposed to be filled by Adam Miller, Jacob Grandison, and Austin Hutcherson. While Miller has been good-at-times, he’s looked like a freshman in all three losses for Illinois, Grandison seldom plays, and Hutcherson hasn’t played a minute yet due to injury. Having this emergence on offense has taken everyone else’s pressure off, and when the defenses are keyed in on Ayo and Kofi, that leaves a few guys unattended.
Is Williams an All-B1G level player?
Williams was already arguably the best defender in the conference despite his 6’3 frame; he mostly plays the four and can defend 1-4 with ease. Williams is averaging 6.8/5.1 so far this season, and often you don’t see players with that kind of stat line get an all-conference nomination, but I think Williams value is one of the tops in the conference with his emergence. Williams won’t shoot 70% from three all-season, or else, he can take Duncan Robinson’s job in the league, but can he shot 43+? I think so. 40+ is considered elite pieced together with his defensive value, and you’d have to convince me that he isn’t an All-B1G player. If Williams had 7.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 45% from three, with his defensive value, it would be complicated not to have that player as one of the ten players on the All-B1G list. The progression of Da’Monte Williams has been a sight to see. Not nearly enough people realize how much Williams has improved, so hopefully, I can assist with that in this piece, profiling Williams.