By Jordan Zuniga
To say Christian Williams’ sophomore season was a disappointment is an understatement.
The then-sophomore began the year as Iowa’s starting point guard but finished struggling to even get onto the court, averaging just 12.8 minutes.
Even in those meager minutes, he wasn’t very productive, putting up just 2.4 points and 1.6 assists and shooting a dreadful 34.8 percent from the floor.
The only bright spot for Williams last season was his defense, even with the limited playing time. He finished fourth on the team in steals.
However, defense alone is not going to win Williams the starting job.
“My approach has been just to stay aggressive,” Williams said. “I know that we need a lot more scoring than we got last season.”
Williams knows what he’s talking about.
Iowa ranked 31st in scoring last season, and then the Hawkeyes lost last season’s best scorer, Peter Jok, to graduation.
Jok put up 20 points a game last season, which means somebody on the Hawkeyes will have to find the hoop sooner rather than later.
This summer, Williams has played with Iowa teammate Ahmad Wagner on the Jill Armstrong team in the Prime Time League.
Williams struggled in his first two games putting up just 9 and 12 points.
He missed the third game with an injury but came back for the fourth game and had his best game since last year’s summer league.
The native of Decatur, Illinois, put up 21 points while grabbing 8 boards and dishing out 5 assists in a winning effort.
Williams has admitted to having confidence issues in the past, but it sure didn’t look like he lacked any on June 29; he dribbled down the court and immediately pulled up for 3s. He even threw down a monstrous dunk early in the first half.
“His confidence and his shooting [have really improved],” Wagner said. “He’s been working really hard on his jump shot, and it shows out here. He’s looking good, and he’s being confident.”
Even though his team has not won in the Prime Team this summer, the win may have meant a little something; it was the first time Nicholas Baer and his team have been beaten this summer. Baer definitely noticed Williams’ improvement.
Iowa’s Christian Williams shoots over Iowa teammate Nicholas Baer during a Prime Time League basketball game in the Cedar Valley SportsPlex in Waterloo on Thursday, June 29, 2017. Williams had eight rebounds and 21 points. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)
“I saw him be a lot more aggressive,” Baer said. “I think that’s the key for him. He’s got a lot of length [and] great speed. I just see a more aggressive mentality from him, which has been impressive. When he gets downhill, he’s tough to stop.”
If Williams were given an award for his performance, it would be most improved player. Well deserved, when you consider his last season and his dismal start to the summer.
“My coaches, they told me to change my mentality and have that aggressive mindset that nobody is going to stop me,” Williams said. “That’s what I’ve been working on.”
Clearly, that advice payed off for him on June 29.
One good performance won’t be enough for Williams to win back his starting role from Jordan Bohannon, especially the way Bohannon and Iowa guards Isaiah Moss and Brady Ellingson have played this summer.
While Williams’ role next year may be up in the air, one thing is for sure: The Hawkeyes will have a lot of depth at guard this coming season.