It appeared that Xeyrius Williams’ 2016-17 basketball season was going to be defined by three seconds at the end of a 61-57 home loss to Saint Mary’s. As you no doubt recall, your Flyers went on a 14-1 run to cut the Gaels’ lead to just two points with 25 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Williams was able to get his paws on the ball after Kyle Davis poked it out of the hands of SMC’s point-guard (I believe his name was Angus Wombat or Hastie Williams — something very Australian). X handled the ball like it was a greasy bear fetus, both full of wonderment and unadulterated fear. Williams took what seemed like four steps, clearly a travel, before running face-first into one of St. Mary’s ubiquitous lanky white guys. Charge, Saint Mary’s ball, game over. In 29 minutes of play, Williams managed to miss all four of his shot attempts and added three turnovers to boot. It was certainly not his finest day in a Flyer uniform.
At the time, I wondered if X-Man would be a significant contributor that season. He seemed completely out of his element and, through three games that season, lacked the type of production to indicate his sophomore campaign would be an improvement on his freshman season. Then, inexplicably, X put up an excellent performance in the Wooden Legacy the next week and the rest of the season was all peaches and cream for the 6’8″ sophomore. Williams finished the season as one of UD’s most efficient players, shooting 42% from three and 79% from the stripe. In addition, X hit one o the most important shots of the year — a three-pointer with seven seconds to give the Flyers a huge road win at Rhode Island.
So, with his place clearly secured, what do we need from Xeyrius Williams this season? More of the same. Williams became UD’s steadiest three-point shooter by the time the season wrapped up last March, and it’s painfully clear that Anthony Grant’s first roster lacks established perimeter shooters. DURRELL Davis has become the antithesis of consistent entering his senior year and all we know about Matej Svoboda comes from practice reports. What’s apparent going into the Ball State opener is UD’s depth in the frontcourt. X, Kostas and Josh Cunningham give Dayton what should be a formidable lineup in the 3-5 spots (I have no clue where Kostas fits into the offense yet, he could be running point for all I know). The backcourt is, of course, what keeps Anthony Grant up at night.
With the aforementioned DURRELL Davis and point-guard impersonator John Crosby taking the reins in the backcourt, the Flyers don’t exactly feature the type of personnel capable of consistently stretching the floor for their bigs. That’s X’s role. We sometimes forget that Williams is six feet, nine inches. A kid that size who can knock down 37-42% of his three-point attempts is a dangerous weapon indeed. With increased minutes, and more focus from opponents, Williams’ ability to knock down shots from behind the arc will be one of the keys to this upcoming season.