By Drew Moss
Hempstead N.Y. – Hofstra University Head Coach Tom Pecora, himself a true up-and-comer in the Division I coaching ranks, did his best to keep an even keel.
But when he looked down the press table at his freshman point guard Chaz Williams, it was hard not to crow.
“New York point guards are the best in the world,” he beamed. “He’s in that mold. We’re lucky to have him.”
Williams, the 5’ 9” whirling dervish out of Brownsville, NY (Bishop Ford Catholic) is proving quickly that his size is no obstacle. In fact, in a vertical game, it may be an advantage.
“I’ve been dealing with doubts about my height all my life. I was always the shortest. Everywhere I’ve ever played. It’s not the size of the man; it’s the size of his heart. No one has me beat on that.”
Tough talk, but delivered with a humility and quietude that belies the freshman’s youth. And does not speak at all to his electric on-court vibe.
Averaging 27 minutes a game as a true frosh, Williams has immediately become the Hofstra Pride’s on-court quarterback, his presence and leadership taking a significant load off of backcourt mate, all CAA Junior Charles Jenkins.
Williams’ overall 2009-10 numbers are less than staggering (7.8 PPG, 4.2 APG), but a closer look at his stat sheet over the Pride’s last four games shows the evolution of an impact player. Some highlights:
9 points, 10 assists in a home win vs. New Hampshire on 12/12.
14 points, 7 assists in a loss to resurgent St. John’s at MSG on 12/20.
14 points in a loss to Davidson the next night.
12 points, 6 assists, 5 steals in a win over Florida Atlantic on 12/29.
Williams was tagged with the “human highlight reel” label by ESPN.com’s Scouts Inc. Indeed the numbers hardly tell the entire story. He’s flashy, but not excessive. He combines blinding quickness and superior ball-handling skills with great court vision. With a healthy assist-to-turnover ratio of 2 to 1, he presses the issue, but with control and maturity. And he defends with tenacity.
Mid-major program or not, Hofstra and the CAA represents excellent Division I basketball. And Williams delivers on that stage. In the December 12th 75-58 home drubbing of New Hampshire, Williams went on a tear of thrilling magnitude. Witness this first half flurry:
14:05. Williams breaks down his man and hits a runner in the lane.
13:40. Williams spins out of a mid-court trap and finds Jenkins for a layup.
12:03. Williams hits Jenkins with an alley-oop of an inbounds.
9:33. Williams beats the 2-3 zone, kicks to Cornelius Vines for a 3 pt. FG.
Then, the grand finale. With 3:47 left in the half and the Pride up by 24 points, Williams stepped into the lane with help defense to take a charge on a player twice his size.
“I just want to keep getting better, get my teammates involved and bring this team great success. That’s what coach brought me here for. That’s what he wants, that’s what I want. That’s what we all want.” Williams has said.
And that, as Pecora will tell you with “Pride” - is a New York City point guard.
Drew Moss is a first time contributor to collegehoops.net. Email Drew at firstname.lastname@example.org.