Freshman Focus: Troy Williams

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“Freshman Focus” is an Inside the Hall series on each of Indiana’s six incoming freshman. Over the next couple of weeks, we will examine what kind of an impact each player can have for the Hoosiers next season. Today: Troy Williams. (Photo via 247Sports)

When Troy Williams transferred from Phoebus High School to Oak Hill Academy before his senior year of high school, he was very much an unpolished basketball player with ridiculous athleticism.

“He was a freak athlete that I felt when I got him didn’t have a real great feel for how to play,” said Oak Hill coach Steve Smith. “I thought, ‘Man, he takes some bad shots, forces up stuff.’”

Smith knew he had plenty to work with in Williams, but it wasn’t always easy to get him to understand how things worked at Oak Hill. Williams had come from a public high school were he was the unquestioned star. He could take any shot he wanted, and he didn’t have to work particularly hard to earn those shots.

At Oak Hill, one of the premier prep schools in the country, it was different. Whereas Williams’ fall months at Phoebus would be spent almost entirely on the basketball court, he was required to work on his body away from the gym much more at Oak Hill.

The team had to run the mile on a daily basis in addition to their weight lifting and speed and agility work during the offseason.

“He wasn’t the most motivated guy when he first got here,” Smith said. “He did it, but at first it was like, ‘Wow, we have to do this all the time?’ He wasn’t used to that. He hadn’t done that before.”

The good thing for Williams is the wake-up call came during his senior year of high school and not his freshman year of college. The 6-foot-6 forward arrived on campus Tuesday and now should have a much better understanding of what it will take to get regular minutes at the collegiate level.

“The year he spent here at Oak Hill will help him tremendously,” Smith said. “He traveled, he kept his grades, he went through study tables, he went through nine months of workouts as well as practice, all the stuff you do in college.”

Williams was the best player on his team at Oak Hill, averaging better than 16 points per game last season. He had multiple triple-double performances near the end of the season, and Smith said he finally learned he could impact the game in ways other than scoring.

Still, though, one of the question marks that remains about Williams is his ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter. His 3-point percentage was down around 30 last season.

“He likes to shoot 3s and he works on it,” Smith said. “In games, if he gets open, he’ll sometimes rush the shot. He went through a stretch during the year where I had to sit him down and say, ‘Troy, you’re like five for you last 28 3s in your last six games. Let’s get to the basket, let’s shorten the shots.’ We tried to get him not to take them on the first pass. When he comes down in transition and just fires up a 3, he’s not gonna make those shots.

“I think he felt like he had to prove to people, ‘I can make a 3.’ He doesn’t have to prove that to anybody.”

Smith said Williams’ 3-point numbers were harmed by the fact he would hoist up one or two bad shots from beyond the arc per game.

He likely won’t have to shoot that many 3s at Indiana, but Williams will have to develop a more consistent perimeter shot to keep defenders honest. Luckily for him, Indiana coach Tom Crean has a good track record of helping players develop outside shots, as evidenced by Christian Watford and Victor Oladipo.

Next season, Smith sees Williams playing a similar role to the one he played at Oak Hill last season.

“He’s not gonna average 16 a game as a freshman, but I think the things he did for us he can do there.,” Smith said. “He’ll rebound, he’ll defend, he’s great in transition, he’s improved his shot.

“He has no illusions of being one and done like a lot of kids. They all want to play in the NBA, that’s their goal, but he’s at Indiana to get better and develop as a player, help them win games. And if he’s ever ready to go, then fine, but he’s not like some guys who are in there as a freshman just trying to make a name for themselves and then move on. He picked Indiana because of the tradition, he picked Indiana because he thought they had a chance to win. And that’s what he wants to do.”

  • Hardwood83

    Lots of potential and the desire to get better all while helping the team win? I like it.

  • Rie

    Troy is going to be special. Him being raised on basketball and his desire to perform on the biggest of stages is going to be huge.

    In other news: James Blackmon moved up to 25 on ESPN. He is now 1 point away from being ranked as a 5-Star. Just thought I would share on the most recent article.

  • kewaynes

    The Man

  • candystripes

    Troy is under the radar. I hope that his work ethic is good, and becomes a 365 day a year guy.
    In the dirty world of recruiting, I can’t wait for the day that Blackmon signs his loi.

  • Drew

    The last paragraph says it all. Cannot wait to see him play.

  • dtfreed

    His former coach tells it like he is, not that good of a shot yet. Same with DD. Its too bad these prior coaches worry more about winning than player development. Not totally mind you, but at each of their sizes 6-6, 6-7 shooting very well is going to make them a lot better in the long run. So work on it, teach it. He said ctc developed VO and CW, really, a ton of extra work at shooting developed it.

  • Erik Holm

    In other (B1G) news: #1 SG D’Angelo Russell just committed to O$U. B1G is staying competitive in the recruiting ranks…

  • Rie

    That was 5 days ago. ESPN has him as the #4 SG.
    If we get Exum and/or Lyle, together with a big man, we will be loaded.

  • Erik Holm

    6 days ago someone said said “If we get Exum and/or Lyle with a big man, we will be loaded.”

  • SCHoosier

    If Troy thinks he got a “wake up call” at Oak Hill…he’s got an even better one coming in Cook Hall this week! Just folo VO’s example Troy…and you’ll be All- conference by your junior year.

  • MillaRed

    We’re going to love the kid. I feel it in my bones.

  • Rie

    Nice.

  • Miamihoosier

    I’m convinced this year’s team can eclipse last year’s end result and make the elite 8 or more. Everything is on the freshman’s shoulders. We know Yogi will be a top 5 PG in the country this year. We know Sheehey will be great. Vonleh needs to be good enough to draw doubles, Fischer needs to be good enough to make them pay for those doubles, With Yogi and Troy’s elite ability to break their man down and get to the lane, 3 point shooting will be critical this year. Teams will definitely pack the lane. We will be dared to shoot until we make it costly for the opponent. This is how Jeremy Hollowell sees regular minutes. He has to become a great 3 point shooter. He’s not and elite defender, and he isn’t taking anyone off the dribble, but he has all the tools to be a great rebounder and jump shooter. I think he fills Sheehey’s spot as our 6th man nicely. I can’t wait to see this team. I just think the freshman are going to be ready to play day 1, and that every Big Ten team has defined weaknesses. We do have a shot to defend our title, despite what most think.

  • Outoftheloop

    Just a guess but I see Luke, Noah, Jeremy, Will, and Yogi starting. IU will have great guard subs in Gordon and Stanford; great wing subs in Troy and Davis; our “Big” subs of Hanner and Jurkin will be great on defense and rebounding-Jurkin at the end of the season; the big worry is can Austin and Collin light it up from the arc? 2013-14 will be a big test for Crean’s coaching skills. We should hold judgments until March. Go IU!

  • SCHoosier

    Heck there are probably only a dozen players in the NBA who can shoot the mid-range jumper with any consistency. Coaches can coach..but with today’s kids its getting to the rim for the slam and pumpin’ up the three. That’s why the prep schools developed..to help round out the games of the quality players. Kids with the kind of athletic ability Troy has, just do what they want against the “normal” high school player. They learn about real life competition at the prep school . Some dominant high school programs may be able to do the same thing. VO was a freak in more ways than one ..all positive. Loved the coach’s candor..work to do Troy and IU is the place to make it happen. Welcome!

  • skotchie

    I’m really excited about this entire class!

  • Miamihoosier

    You might be right on Jeremy vs. Troy, we’ll have to see. Starting 3 freshman can be scary, but it just seems Troy’s superior athleticism might be too much to keep off the court. Victor fumbled away a lot of possessions his freshman year, but we all know what happened starting in year 2….Jeremy will need similiar improvement if he wants to start, he lost control on a lot of balls last year. If I had to pick one Sophomore I’d like to see make a significant leap, it would have to be Hanner Perrea though- so far his potential and his reality are worlds apart.

  • HoosierTrav

    I feel it deep within my loins…. That’s right! Loins (whisper)

  • E Foy McNaughton

    I believe you are correct on the starters. I wouldn’t be shocked to see some experimenting early in the season with the starting line-up, possibly Gordon – Troy as starters. Maybe, depending on how much Hanner has improved, he will be in the starter experiments. The wild cards for how good this team becomes will be Jeremy and Hanner IMO. If they make big strides AND this freshman class plays well – the sky is the limit.

  • HoosierGrampy

    I like everyone in the 2013 class! Every one of them has a special skill set and the rare opportunity to make significant AND immediate contributions on the court. I expect that Vonleh will not disappoint anyone with his game or his ability to elevate the play of his teammates. Same goes for Robinson. Fisher & Hartman are also going to put smiles on a lot of fans faces, but the two players I’m most excited about are Devin Davis and Troy Williams. Davis simply doesn’t know how to take plays off and I hope he never learns. Troy Williams is simply an explosion waiting to happen…off the charts athleticism coupled with a willingness to learn and work at improving all aspects of his game–could we ask for anything more of our recruits?

  • CreamandCrimson

    What’s Michigan State’s defined weakness?

  • VAHoosier

    This is one of the reasons that, if we can’t get both Exum and Lyle, I would lean in favor of Exum, because he has a good mid-range game, which is a bit of a rarity.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Unrelated to Troy Williams but….it appears IU has added a December 10 home game with Oakland University (moving from the Summit League to the Horizon League, I believe). They finished last season at 14-16 and were ranked 152 in the final RPI standings. Take that for what it’s worth.

  • kennygeorge

    He can still change his mind, and I’m certain tc and kenny and the guys wouldn’t complain. I sense some interesting facts to come out of this before it’s over.

  • KevOMG

    Yea I remember when Victor Olathreepo had a bad perimeter game.
    Yea, we fixed that……..

  • Michael R

    I agree. I have been following this story hard ever sense I got the facts about the case. I really think that something is up with this case as everyone has been silent about it. They made PJ take down his twitter account and no one from the UNC Atheltic Department has spoke a word about the case. This just goes to prove that one player cannot make you, but one player can break you as a program. If the car was paid for by a booster then the NCAA will impose violations and loss of scholarships. That could derail UNC for a couple years and benefit programs like IU. I would love Pinson to change his mind. It was hard seeing us lose him to UNC, but I would expect a top player in the state to play for one of the better programs in his respective state. Cannot blame him, but if UNC gets put on probation, then I expect Pinson would know he is still welcome to the Hoosier Nation. Similar to what happened with Devin Ebanks when IU got hit following the Sampson Scandal. Ebanks went to West Virginia, which was his second choice.

  • Miamihoosier

    Good question, they are definitely the favorites going in, but I just don’t think they have the depth of an Iowa, OSU, Michigan, or Indiana. Payne, Dawson, Harris, and Appling is as formidable a starting combo as there will be in the country, but as we’ve seen recently, if anything happens to one of their 4 stars (ie..the Dawson injury, foul trouble, or Appling being too scared to play against Oladipo) they become very vulnerable.

  • CreamandCrimson

    The NCAA moves at such a snail’s pace, I don’t think sanctions would be handed to North Carolina in time for it to make a difference for the coming season (therefore wouldn’t make difference to Pinson/IU). I could be wrong though and you are right, it’s an interesting case worth keeping an eye on (especially with the recent academic scandal at UNC).

  • CreamandCrimson

    Depth at OSU? Does Thad Matta know the meaning of that word? Haha. I’m not denying there’s a drop-off after those top four but I think Valentine and Trice are solid. Gauna and Costello will get better and be able to contribute. Plus, they have a very good recruit in 6’5″ Alvin Ellis that should help their 2-guard/small forward depth. I think MSU is the favorite and I don’t think it’s particularly close right now. I’d love to be wrong though!

  • IUMIKE1

    Yea, Thad Matta & tight rotation are pretty much synonymous IMHO.

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