Brad Underwood’s Illini squad has taken yet another offseason hit, however this time, by way of transfer. Sophomore small forward D.J. Williams announced via Instagram that he would play his final two seasons of college basketball somewhere besides the University of Illinois.
New coach Brad Underwood recently lost incoming freshman Javon Pickett and Jeremiah Tilmon who both opted out of their initial letters of intent but this transfer request is the first Underwood has had to deal with at the helm of the Illini. The sophomore guard played sparingly under John Groce and decided to take a 3 game leave for personal reasons in the middle of the Big Ten regular season which prompted many fans to believe he would be on his way out at the end of the season.
After the coaching change took place, fans became optimistic for Williams’ return and believed Underwood’s up-tempo style of play would better suit his skills. Williams, who played his high school basketball under Rob Smith at Simeon Academy in Chicago, was the 64th ranked recruit in 2015 according to ESPN and continued what the Illini faithful had hoped would be a Simeon to Illinois pipeline that was re-ignited with John Groce’s recruitment of both Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn in the class of 2014. Williams is an athletic small forward who stands at 6 feet 7 inches and has an 82 inch wingspan.
In two seasons for the Illini, Williams averaged nearly 9 minutes and 2.2 points per game but his numbers do not tell the whole story due to his above average mid-range game which has drawn comparisons to recently graduated Illini star Malcolm Hill. Although Williams was never able to reach his full potential in Champaign, he has the chance to blossom and become a star wherever he ends up given he is a natural scorer and can handle the ball like a point guard.
Photo via USA Today Sports