By Todd McElwee
Williams, a 6-foot-10, 260-pound sophomore forward, led the way with a game-high 18 points and seven rebounds, displaying his maturity and proving he wasn't simply picking up from last year, but had already moved on.
"This year I'm taking on a leadership role, a little bit more, along with other teammates," Williams said. "I'm going to push the other guys to work as hard as we did last year because we know what it takes to be successful."
Last season, Williams was a supporting member of the Terps' cast, a complementary teammate to ACC Player of the Year Greivis Vasquez as well as seniors Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne. Williams did his part, and did it well, but it wasn't his show.
An ACC All-Rookie selection, Williams averaged 9.6 points and 8.6 boards, good for second in the league, while joining Joe Smith and Buck Williams as the only freshmen in school history to tally 250 points and 250 rebounds.
Even as a freshman, the spotlight was rarely too bright for Jordan Williams. He had 15 points and 11 rebounds during a 79-72 win over No. 4 Duke March 3. In his NCAA tournament debut, he posted career highs in both points (21) and rebounds (17) while leading the Terps past Houston, 89-77. A 10-point, 10-board effort in a heartbreaking 85-83 second-round loss to Michigan State followed.
This year, it's Williams' name in lights at the top of the marquee. His abilities are well documented in the ACC and beyond. In October, he was named to the Wooden Award Watch List.
"It's really humbling," Williams said. "I just have to keep working hard and take advantage of the situation I'm in by helping my teammates and team try to win. It definitely makes me want to work harder and do anything I have to do."
Williams welcomes the lofty expectations for his sophomore. Remaining in College Park throughout the summer, he spent the offseason tweaking his game and physique. Free throw after free throw accompanied an elevated commitment to both strength and cardiovascular conditioning. The results are already evident to his coach.
"He worked hard, because his body is different," Gary Williams said. "He's a better athlete and has dropped, I'd say, 10 pounds. But it's muscle now. I can see in some of his moves he's a lot more confident when he gets the ball. He's had some success, so he knows if he does certain things it will work. All of those things weren't there this time last year. I think he's in a different position this year going into the season."
Throughout the summer, Jordan Williams competed with a number of premier collegiate and NBA players in pickup games at local gyms. Those joining him on the floor included Oklahoma Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley, Georgetown guard Austin Freeman and Duke point guard Nolan Smith.
"It was really a lot of competition," Williams said. "Any time you play around players like that it definitely steps your game up a lot. It makes you play your best."
Williams is finding his voice as a leader. Though only a sophomore, he's one of the more experienced Terps, trailing only junior guard Sean Mosley in minutes played last year by those returning. He said he learned a lot under the tutelage of Vasquez, Milbourne and Hayes.
Williams had 17 points and a game-high 15 boards during the Terps' season-opening 106-75 win against Seattle University Nov. 8 at the Comcast Center.
"It feels good, but it's only the first game," Williams said. "I think a big part of playing Division I and playing in the ACC is being consistent, so if I do that tonight but not the next night, it doesn't mean anything."
Issue 155: November 2010