Gopher Gold: Rodney Williams
When Rivals.com ranks a player the 100th best recruit in the country, and that player is considered the third best recruit for his school, hype is probably not going to precede him to campus. It has taken Minnesota Golden Gopher fans three games to realize they have something special in Rodney Williams and NBADraft.net has also taken notice. Minnesota began the season with three wins against lesser competition, but Rodney Williams immediately flashed his immense potential.
Four games into his freshman season, Williams is averaging 12.0 PPG, 2.2 RPG and 1.0 APG while shooting 66.7% from the floor including 44.4% from long distance. Beyond the statistics is the jaw dropping athleticism he brings to both ends of the court. Even though the season is young, college basketball pundits are realizing Williams was a steal for the Golden Gophers.
Williams is from New Hope, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. He attended Robbinsdale Cooper High and played summer ball for the highly regarded Howard Pulley AAU program. Major college programs such as UCONN, Kansas, Memphis and several Big Ten schools showed interest, but like other great Minnesota high school players, Williams decided to stay home to play for Tubby Smith and the Golden Gophers. A primary reason for this decision is the strong support system provided by his family and friends.
In regards to his freshman year at Minnesoata his high school coach David Johnson feels the most important growth step for Rodney is to have confidence in his outside shooting ability and to value each day with Tubby Smith as his coach. Valuing Tubby Smith should not be a problem for somebody like Rodney Williams. After speaking with Coach Johnson and Howard Pulley Player Development facilitator, Mitch Ohnstad, it became very apparent that Williams is very coachable and has a willingness to defend and compete. These characteristics should allow Rodney to thrive for a coach like Tubby Smith.
When asked to describe Rodney’s game and why he was not more highly touted coming out of high school Coach Johnson said, “I feel that most people do not know how good of an all around player Rodney Williams really is. Rodney plays extremely good defense, he is a very good rebounder on both ends of the floor, he is a very good passer, runs the floor very well, and can find the ball so quickly on offense or defense. Rodney is also an extremely good teammate that wants his team to do well and each player on the team to succeed both on and off the court.” Mitch Ohnstad believes the modest recruiting rankings were a result of what scouts believed Williams couldn't do rather than focusing on his astounding positive qualities. "Rodney is a fantastic athlete, one of the most athletic guys I've ever seen," said Ohnstad, who played for the Golden Gophers from 1998-2000. "He's also a good outside shooter and an excellent help-side defender."
Beyond his outstanding athletic ability, Coach Johnson and Mitch Ohnstad made it very clear that Rodney Williams is a "good kid." Coach Johnson elaborated on Rodney Williams, the person, by saying, “Rodney Williams is an excellent young man that truly cares about other people. He comes from a very good family that has supported him and guided him on his journey in life, and the values they have taught him shines in all that he does each day.”
His size and athleticism have drawn comparisons to Vince Carter and Jason Richardson, but he must improve his mid-range game, ball handling, on-the-ball defense and strength in order to become a factor at the next level. The comments about Rodney Williams' character make us believe he will take advantage of his time at Minnesota to turn his potential into reality.
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seems like a nice guy :)
Big Minnesota fan here and I'm very happy we got him. We got some good ballers up here. Just if we could've kept Cole Aldrich, Trent Lockett, Anthony Tucker and Jon Leuer we could be a top 5 team. Let's hope our team gets it's off the court issues together. Thanks Rodney things are looking good for ya. Hurry up Royce and Trevor.
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talented and promising player!