Sometimes, in the world of recruiting, you need to get lucky, especially for a first-year coach hired in close proximity to the spring signing period. While Coach Keith Dambrot was unable to keep any of former coach Jim Ferry’s signees, he was able to secure rich talent in the spring of 2017.
The first guy to take a leap of faith and sign with the Dambrot and the Dukes was 6-foot-5 swingman Eric Williams Jr from New Haven, Michigan.
Dukes fans are well acquainted with Williams now, but he was a complete unknown during the spring signing period.
Periodically, you hear about kids flying under the radar and then blowing up on the AAU circuit going into their senior seasons. This wasn’t the case with Williams. Despite putting up video game-like numbers (20.9 ppg, 6.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists & 3.5 steals) at New Haven High, he flew under the radar and stayed there until his freshman season began this fall on ‘the Bluff.’
Williams admits he plays with a chip on his shoulder, “I had a great senior season and coaches still didn’t know if I was good enough or not, I used that as a tool to get through and it helps me out now. It helped me become more mature and helping me learn the game. I’ve gotten a lot better since I arrived at Duquesne.”
Going into his freshman season, Williams was not sure what his role on the team would be.
“I didn’t know I was going to play this much and I was just trying to work my way up to get minutes. I just came in trying to learn and I had to learn quick, but I’ve been a pretty good learner beforehand so it’s helped me out a lot now.”
The most polished part of Williams game is his rebounding as he has been a beast on the boards so far for the Dukes this season. Williams is averaging 10.6 boards per game to go along with his 15.3 points per game.
His numbers speak for themselves.
He’s one of six freshmen in the nation — four of which were five-star recruits on ESPN.com — to average a double-double starting out the year.
Duquesne's 6-5 Eric Williams Jr is one of six NCAA Division I freshmen currently averaging a double-double // of the six, four are 6-11 or taller https://t.co/n8wdt7DoIA-rated 5-star recruits pic.twitter.com/1cnMd4sY6F
— Duquesne Basketball (@DuqMBB) December 7, 2017
“The whole game I literally go for rebounds, that and most of the time I can see where the ball is going. I have that knack of knowing where the ball is going.”
Williams says him and coach Dambrot have a terrific relationship.
“Off the court, he’s a great guy. On the court or at practice he’s always on us. Sometimes I get mad, but I know he’s doing it for my betterment. He brings the best out of everybody.”
In my own personal opinion, I’ve compared Williams to former Dayton Flyer Chris Johnson and also Los Angeles Laker Kyle Kuzma. The scary thing is that at 6-5 & 190 pounds Williams will more than likely fill out and become an even more dangerous weapon for Dambrot and the Dukes.
Talking with Williams was a pleasure and a great testament to the type of student-athletes that Coach Dambrot is recruiting.
The sky is the limit for him and I fully expect him to reach it.