This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

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Williams a bright spot for Smith's recruiting

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: November 15, 2012 - 10:43 AM



Four years later, Rodney Williams is there.

As I wrote in today’s Star Tribune, while Williams has been stellar through the season’s first two games, it hasn’t really been a topic of conversation anymore – mostly because we expect this now. The forward proved he could be consistent, and dominant at the end of the season last year, and he’s only picking up where he left off.

It’s what coach Tubby Smith originally envisioned from the Minneapolis native when he brought in the heralded (No. 24 nationally) class of 2009, which also included Trevor Mbakwe, Royce White and Justin Cobbs.

And four years later, Williams is a bright spot in what has otherwise been a recruiting effort that has been often defined by losses, misses and guys that didn’t pan out.

From that class, White never played a game, Cobbs transferred after his freshman season and Mbakwe’s performances have been limited due to legal issues and injury.

“A lot has changed since we first got here,” Mbakwe said. “But I’ve been fortunate enough to play with him for four years and see his game evolve, and, you know, I’m happy for him.”

It has been a long road for Williams, though, who came in with jaw-dropping athleticism and lofty expectations, but hadn’t really put it all together until the end of last season (when he averaged 18 points and six rebounds over the final eight games).

2009-10: 4.2 ppg 1.6 rpg 14 steals

2010-11: 6.8 ppg 3.5 rpg 20 steals

2011-12: 12.2 ppg 5.6 rpg 50 steals

Through two games this season, he’s averaging 14 points and 6.5 rebounds.

“We knew his athleticism, we knew he was as good an athlete as we were going to sign, as we’d signed since we’ve been here,” Smith said. “But then you had to develop all the other stuff and it just takes time.”

The real chance came after Williams shifted over the 4-spot to replace an injured Mbakwe, and suddenly he looked as though he’d rediscovered his natural position.

“One of the biggest things is I think he’s taken a lot more pride, and put a lot more effort into his defense and his rebounding, which was always what I thought he struggled with up until last year, when he made that move.”

Williams has wowed Smith in other ways, though, as he’s grown.

“Now he’s our team captain,” Smith said. “He’s really matured in that area. He’ll be the first one to tell you, he was pretty immature. So he’s grown up a lot and become a good leader for our young players. And they really look up to him and respect him. And I do, too. I respect what he’s done, and that’s why we’ve got NBA scouts coming to practice all the time, because of him, because of Trevor, because we’ve got the type of talent now.”

That talent, being so close to the NBA, could help lure future recruits to come to a program that can claim success in developing its players into professionals.

And with game-changing local classes in 2014 and 15, the Gophers will take every advantage they can get.


Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM


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