The Times West Virginian

Sports

January 11, 2014

HERTZEL COLUMN: Huggins sees potential in Devin Williams

MORGANTOWN — Devin Williams, the West Virginia University freshman, is sitting in the seats behind the baseline down at the end of the Coliseum where the weight room is, his trademark goggles flipped up on his forehead.

He’s surrounded by a group of media midgets, at least by comparison to what he will be surrounded by at 4 p.m. today when he’s out there on the floor facing Oklahoma State.

Questions are being tossed to him about the same way Juwan Staten will be tossing him the basketball down low, and he’s handling them as deftly as he handles one of Staten’s entry passes.

Most everyone is caught up in the answers, but as I stand there in front of him I take a peek down at his sneakers and do a double take. OK, he’s a big guy, 6-9 or so, which makes him in need of a sturdy foundation, but this is ridiculous.

“Man, what size sneakers you wearing?” I ask.

He isn’t embarrassed by answering.

“Eighteen,” he says.

Eighteen? You could put two of my feet into one of his shoes and probably have room left over for a double layer of Dr. Scholl’s.

This is a true man-child.

He’s so much of man child that just minutes earlier his coach, Bob Huggins, was offering comparisons to two of his greatest big men at Cincinnati, Kenyon Martin and Danny Fortson, both All-Americans.

Now, before Williams’ head swells to the size of his feet, let us understand that Huggins was not saying Williams is in their class, only that he possesses potential to reach such heights.

“He’s more productive now than Kenyon was, but he’s not close to as productive as Fortson was,” Huggins said, thinking back to the three of them as freshmen. “He’s probably rebounded as well as them.”

Williams has an advantage over Martin, who probably would have led Cincinnati to an NCAA championship his final year if he hadn’t broken a leg in the conference tournament.

“Kenyon was more athletic, but didn’t play that much as a freshman,” Huggins noted. “Devin is more like Fortson, but he can’t score like Danny could. Danny could really score the ball.”

Fortson averaged 15 points as a freshman, 20 and 21 in his other two years at Cincinnati before embarking on an 11-year NBA career. Martin averaged 10 points a game his first two years with the Bearcats and 19 his third with 10 rebounds a game.

Williams is averaging 10 points and eight rebounds a game this year.

Huggins actually believes a better comparison is to WVU’s Kevin Jones, because Williams really hasn’t been a back-to-the-basket big man like Fortson or Martin were.

“Devin never played much with is back to the basket. He has better ball skills than Danny had, better than K.J. had. He can shoot more consistent from mid-range,” Huggins said.

“He has a chance to be a very good player. He’s getting almost eight rebounds a game as a freshman. If that continues to improve, he’ll have big rebounding numbers.”

How does Williams picture himself two years down the road?

“I don’t think like that, two or three years ahead,” he said. “I try to take it game by game.”

But he realizes he is off to a big rebounding start and has seen himself improving day by day, game by game.

“I’ve improved most because I’m playing longer,” he said, thinking back to how tough it was on him when he came out of Cincinnati to his first practice at WVU.

“When I first walked through the door and went to practice I was dog tired, tongue-hanging-out, I-need-water kind of thing. It’s still kind of like that some days, but it’s getting a lot better,” he said.

Because of that he’s growing as a player.

“I think more people are trusting more in what I do and the shots I take. As a team we’re starting to trust each other,” he said.

“I’m becoming more of a leader, not from the front of the pack. The upperclassmen are at the front of the pack, but I’m trying to lead from behind and do the things like grab some rebounds,” he added.

One thing is certain, though.

When his career is over at WVU, someone is going to have some very big shoes to fill.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Tori Postlewait front.jpg East’s Postlewait, North’s Latocha toss no-hitters

    Tori Postlewait made a deal with her great-uncle, Kenny Carpenter, before her freshman season.
    If the Bees’ pitcher tossed a no-hitter, Carpenter promised to give her $20.
    Well, it took four years, but it’s finally time for Postlewait’s great-uncle to pay up.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • East tennis splits with Polar Bears

    Fairmont Senior and East Fairmont split a pair of tennis matches Thursday, with Fairmont Senior winning the boys’ match and East Fairmont taking the girls’ competition.
    In the Bees’ 6-1 girls’ victory, Cara Laswell took second singles, 8-2. Erica Gorman won third singles, 8-1. And Carrington Reese won fourth singles, 8-3.

    April 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • McCutchen, Alvarez lead Pirates over Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • University hands Huskies first loss; East edges Elkins

    The mercy rule has been a familiar part of North Marion’s softball season.
    Through the first seven games, the Huskies regularly pounded their opponents with stingy defense, sharp pitching and timely hitting. Rarely did a game go all seven innings for the previously undefeated team.

    April 17, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Pirates shut out by Reds’ Cueto, 4-0

    Johnny Cueto was on his game, and the only thing that the Pirates could do was watch.
    Cueto pitched his third career shutout against the team that beat him in the NL wild card game, and Joey Votto hit a two-run homer that led the Cincinnati Reds over the Pirates 4-0 Wednesday for their first winning series this season.

    April 17, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos