Torrington's Desmond Williams: A Hoops Star Rising. Story by John Torsiello.
You could make a case that Torrington’s Desmond Williams was the best player on the floor in last week’s Southern Connecticut State University scrimmage against the defending NCAA champion UConn Huskies.
The 6-5 junior guard had 19 points, nine rebounds, four steals and three assists as the Owls gave the Huskies all they wanted before bowing, 70-62, in Storrs. After two years at the Community College of Rhode Island, where he scored over 1,200 points and twice was a National Junior College Athletic Association All-Region 21 selection, the former Torrington High School star is well on his way toward his goal of taking his game to the highest level possible.
“I really hope to play professionally someday after helping Southern win a National championship,” said Williams, who prepped a year at Putnam Science Academy before attending CCRI, which was a two-time NJCAA Region 21 champion and a Division 2 National championship runner-up while Williams was there.
The son of Leron and Dedra Williams said playing at Gampel Pavilion last week was his biggest thrill to date at the collegiate level.
Southern won 30 games last year, captured the Northeast-10 Conference title, and advanced deep in the NCAA Division II National tournament, losing in the Elite Eight to the University of Central Missouri.
Williams, the brother of Jordan Williams, who played two years at the University of Maryland and was selected as the 36th pick in the 2011 National Basketball Association draft by the then New Jersey Nets, for whom he played a year, and the nephew of former UConn standout Murray Williams, is pleased to be a key member of the Owls. He sat out a year to work on his academics before attending Southern.
“I feel like it has gone well so far, but I always think it could be better. That’s just the competitiveness side of me coming out. I’m not really surprised to be a key member of the team at Southern. I’ve always been a key member for a team, so I guess I'm kind of used to it by now. But this is a lot different from any other team I've been on.”
Williams, who has dreams of playing in the NBA or becoming an NBA agent, says the transition from high school ball to college was difficult at first. But the jump from CCRI has not been as challenging.
“Coming from a community college it was a lot easier than coming right out of high school. Really, sitting out a year and coming back was the hardest part.”
Williams talked about his choice to attend Southern. He was recruited by several Division I schools, such as Kansas State, Providence, Rhode Island, and Saint Bonaventure.
“Coach (Mark) Makubika (Owls assistant coach) had been recruiting me since I was in prep school, and we have been in contact ever since. This summer, he really helped me get into Southern, so I felt like I needed to show him and this school as much respect as they showed me.”
Head coach Mike Donnelly is high on his new star.
“He is a great kid and a pleasure to coach. With 12 players returning from last year's Elite 8 team, Desmond has been a perfect fit both on and off the court with our guys. He has blended right in with the team chemistry and he adds much versatility at both ends of the floor. He is a very talented basketball player who works hard and is very coachable. I am excited to watch Desmond continue to develop his game throughout the season and hopefully help us achieve our goals this year.”
Basketball, of course, is an integral part of the Williams family’s lives. Leron Williams played briefly at the University of Hawaii and coached the Torrington High School boys’ team. Murray helped UConn win a National Invitational Tournament title, and another uncle, Rene, was a standout player at Mattatuck Community College. All were standouts at THS.
“I started playing basketball really early, maybe around four,” says Desmond. “I think my parents put a ball in my hands at two, but I really didn’t start playing until a couple of years later. I always thought I was good at it (he laughs), but maybe that was just in my head.”
He talked about his close relationship with his brother
“My brother is my role model, he is the one person who's been through everything so he knows the ins and outs. We talk every day and he tells me how proud of me he is. I couldn't be any luckier to have him in my life.”
Jordan has been attempting to get back into the NBA in recent months.
Desmond Williams lists going to the state championship game with his father as coach and playing on the same team with his brother for three years as his fondest memories of his days at Torrington High School. He keeps in touch with a number of his THS teammates.
“I am really close with the kids I graduated with, like Derrick Brockamer and Richie Moran.”
Williams’ grades are holding up and he currently has a 3.0 GPA in sports management. During the off-season, he worked hard on his game, whether that was taking shot after shot or playing pickup and in leagues in preparation for joining the team at Southern.
The Owls return to action Saturday against Dowling College in the Bridgeport Tournament.
It is obvious the work Desmond Williams has put in during the past several years is paying dividends and that Southern has a real player on its hands for the next two seasons.