Da'Monte Williams Ends His Recruitment Early--Commits To Big Ten School

By Roy & Harv Schmidt

February 28, 2016

8:00 P.M. CST

Very few high school basketball players are truly "must gets" when it comes to recruiting. Only the franchise players--the ones who are likely one-and-done and everyone knows are can't miss prospects.  However, to say that Da'Monte Williams was a high priority recruit for the University Of Illinois was a huge understatement.

After all, Da'Monte's father--Frank Williams--is perceived as an icon in the eyes of the Illini Nation and the Illini media. And with that comes high expectations and sometimes even unrealistic ones.  But all's well that ends well in the recruiting world, and it has certainly ended well as far as Illinois head coach John Groce is concerned.  That is because the 6'4 2017 combo guard from Manual High School in Peoria, IL committed to Groce and the Illini tonight.

Williams toured the Champaign campus along with his father this afternoon.  Seeing as though it was the first time that Frank had been back on campus in quite a while, that was when rumors began swirling that the commitment could be a done deal.  Sure enough, it came to fruition.

Make no mistake about it--Williams had been considered a heavy Illini lean from day one and the general consensus was that it was only a matter of time until he would pull the trigger.  The only question was when. Although Williams also received scholarship offers from Indiana, Cincinnati, Bradley, Illinois State and UIC he never really allowed any other program to get close to him.

With that said, the only thing that some thought might hold up Williams' commitment was the unanswered question as to what the future might hold in store for Groce in terms of whether he will still be coaching at Illinois. While nothing has been made public just yet, one can best believe that this issue was addressed privately between new Illini AD Josh Whitman and the Williams family.  And at this time all indications point to Groce still being in Champaign once the 2016-17 season begins.

In addition to Groce, credit once again goes to Illini assistant coach Paris Parham, who led Williams' recruitment. Parham watched Williams endlessly throughout the past summer including at Summer Jam presented by NY2LA Sports and has stuck to him like glue ever since then.

Williams has gotten better every time we have watched him and was absolutely outstanding when we attended the Pontiac Holiday Tournament in December, where he scored 37 points in an overtime victory versus Joliet West in the semifinals.  At that time, we proclaimed Williams the #1 player in the state from the 2017 class.  We currently have him ranked #2 in 2017 behind only 6'3 2-guard Jordan Goodwin of Althoff High School in Belleville, IL, who the Illini are also recruiting heavily.

Above all else, Williams is the ultimate combo guard.  That is because he can play either guard spot flawlessly—he can pull up and convert 3s with regularity, is an excellent ball handler and distributor both on the break and in the half-court and a top-notch defender.  What especially impresses us is how much Williams’ overall floor game has matured in the past year, with him becoming even more of a leader with a great composure and demeanor. 

Williams becomes the second commitment in the 2017 class for Groce and the Illini, joining 6'5 wing forward Javon Pickett of Belleville East High School in Belleville, IL.  The Illini coaching staff also remains in heavy pursuit of 6'10 center Jeremiah Tilmon of LaLumiere School in LaPorte, IN as well as Goodwin and several other 2017 prospects (http://ilprepbullseye.com/Pickett_Illinois.html).                            

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