Charles Leclaire-US PRESSWIRE
If Ohio State is going to be successful this season, they're going to need breakout performances from several underclassmen. Perhaps none of them are as intriguing as center Amir Williams.
Amir Williams wasn't labeled the #4 center prospect because he ISN'T good at basketball. Williams dominated some pretty good prep competition for Detroit Country Day (18 ppg, 12.6rpg and 5 bpg), and expectations were high for him coming into Columbus. The adjustment from Michigan HS hoops to Big Ten play was a tough one at first, and Williams mostly rode the bench, rarely playing more than 10 min a game. A strong performance in limited minutes against Syracuse, and a likely increase in playing time will buoy expectations for the 6'11 shotblocker. If Ohio State is going to continue their tradition of strong team defense, particularly in the interior, they're going to need a big growth year from Williams.
Last Year's Stats: 29 GP 6.6 MPG, 1.7PPG, 52.8% FG, 2.14 RPG, 23 Blocks
A Look Back:
Williams was forced into action during the early season matchup with Kansas and looked lost, with 3 boards and 3 fouls in 15 min of action. He mostly played mop up duty, but had a few bright spots. In 14 min against Jackson State he had 5 points and 7 boards, and blocked 4 shots in only 8 minutes against VMI. He played well against South Carolina (15 min, 4 boards, 6 points 2 blocks), and swatted another 3 shots in 8 minutes against Penn State. His biggest game was unquestionably in the tournament against Syracuse. In 9 min of play, Williams grabbed 4 clutch rebounds, blocked 2 shots and scored 3 points, helping stabilize the Bucks when Sully missed some time.
Outlook for 2012-2013:
Williams may not necessarily start for Ohio State, but Matta is going to certainly hope he's ready to be an important rotation piece (hopefully 20 minutes a game). Williams is going to be shooting more than last year (he attempted more than 2 shots in a game exactly twice), but I wouldn't expect him to be the 1st or 2nd option anytime soon. Amir needs to focus on protecting the rim, playing help defense, blocking shots, and staying out of foul trouble. If that turns into a few high percentage buckets along the way, awesome.
Best Case Scenario:
Williams' awareness and confidence take major steps forward, and he's able to start locking down Big Ten Big Men. Williams averages close to 2 swats and 6.5 boards a game, allowing the Buckeyes to deny second chance buckets enough to keep them in games when DeShaun's shots aren't falling. Williams is able to play at least 20 min a night, and starts to show a hint of facing-the-basket offensive game, as he keeps teams honest with his ability to hit a few jumpers to go with the occasional dunk.
Worst Case Scenario:
Amir continues to drift in and out of games, shifting from rebounding and defensive dominance to prolonged stretches of foul trouble or irrelevance. He's unable to play more than 10, 15 min a game, and doesn't provide much other than blocking shots and the occasional rebound over a much smaller defender. OSU is beat up by bigger teams inside.