Boys basketball: WVU recruit hopes to make impact
WHEELING, W.Va. -- West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins is big on defense.
For the time being, that doesn't bode well for Montverde Academy's Devin Williams, one of the top recruits of his 2013 recruiting class.
"I want to say that I love defense, I love defense, but I love challenges," said Williams, who was tasked with guarding Simeon (Ill.) star and Duke signee Jabari Parker at the Cancer Research Classic on Saturday. "I really don't care too much for (defense), but I will play it."
His experience guarding one of the top players in the 2013 graduating class didn't go so well when Parker hit a pair of early 3-pointers in front of Williams.
When Williams was switched off Duke's star recruit, the Eagles overcame an eight-point deficit and sprinted to an 82-53 win at Wheeling Jesuit University on Saturday.
There was a lot of good out of Williams, the 22nd-best power forward in the 2013 class according to ESPN.
He had 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, connected on all five of his free throw attempts and added four rebounds without a turnover in his first game on ESPN2.
It was opportunities like that which appealed to Williams when he took his game from Withrow High School in his hometown of Cincinnati - where he first connected with WVU - to the private school in Montverde, Fla. about 30 miles northeast of Orlando.
"A lot of my family members grew up around him, my mom, my grandmom and my dad, so they were very familiar with him," Williams said of Huggins, who coached at Cincinnati from 1989-2005. "Since my ninth grade year, (assistant) Coach Erik Martin would always come down and visit me, talked about building relationships and go to a school where you're comfortable with the staff. That's why I made the choice."
Williams' preparation for Huggins' historically grueling practices and defensive expectations has begun at Montverde under Coach Kevin Boyle, who also coached at St. Patrick's (N.J.).
It didn't take long for Williams to realize what he had gotten himself into, as his indoctrination was immediate.
"(We call him) Kevin Sprint. When I first came down there, the whole team was sitting on the bench and he (Boyle) asked us, 'How many points you all want to average, 90 to 100?'
"We were all like, 'Yea, yea.' So, we come out the next day and he's just running us and running us. We're all looking at each other like, 'What's he doing?' He said in order to do stuff like that, score 90 to 100 points, is to be in shape. Every practice we just compete. It's good stuff."
Practicing, thus far, is making perfect for Montverde. Stocked with talent, the Eagles are 16-0 as they continue their quest to be called the top team in the United States. Guard Kasey Hill has signed with Florida State, while forward Dakari Johnson committed to Kentucky following Saturday's win over Simeon. Junior guard D'Angelo Russell is pondering offers from Florida, Indiana, Louisville, Missouri, North Carolina State and Ohio State.
Williams is joining a recruiting class at WVU which, so far, features 6-7 power forward Nathan Adrian from Morgantown, 6-9 center Brandon Watkins from Decatur, Ga., and 6-9 power forward Elijah Macon, who played at Huntington Prep before moving on to Brewster Academy, a preparatory school in New Hampshire.
As for Williams, he wants to make an immediate impact for Huggins next season and has noticed how the Mountaineers are struggling in their first season in the Big 12.
WVU is 7-6 and coming off a 67-57 loss to Oklahoma in the Mountaineers' first league game on Saturday.
He's really not sure how to lose, especially this season during which his Eagles have victories over four teams in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 - No. 2 Lone Peak (Highland, Utah), No. 3 Long Beach Poly (Calif.), No. 4 Whitney Young (Chicago) and No. 7 Simeon.
Montverde is alone at the top of MaxPreps' Academy rankings.
"(WVU) is kind of struggling a little bit this year, but Coach Huggins always somehow figures it out," Williams said. "That's why he said he recruited me, because I'm a hard-nosed guy who just wants to go out there and has the will to play hard.
"I want to play well right away, starting minutes and all of that, but at the same time, as far as my game developing and being ready for the next level if I get the opportunity, I'm going to be patient and keep working and keep working."
Particularly on defense.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at email@example.com or 304-348-4837.