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NBA hopeful Desmond Williams plays for the love of the game

Feb. 14, 2013

Desmond Williams goes in for a layup against Dean College on Dec. 6. Desmond Williams goes in for a layup against Dean College on Dec. 6. Photo credit: Dan Aurelio.

Desmond “Des” Williams of the CCRI men’s basketball team just might make it to the NBA one day, but you wouldn’t guess it unless you saw him play.

“A lot of the really good guys,” says CCRI Head Coach Rick Harris, “they let you know how good they are. They’ve got an ego. Not Des. He’s a pleasure to work with.”

Williams is one of the best basketball players CCRI has ever seen. He is the college’s No. 4 all-time scorer with 1,218 career points as of Feb. 12 and has plenty of time to improve his stats (there are three regular season games remaining, plus post-season play). He is ranked eighth in Division II.

Williams is quick to credit his teammates with helping him succeed, particularly his close friend, roommate and co-captain Bryan Yarce.

“Our chemistry is unbelievable,” Williams said. Playing with a player like him, it’s easy for me to get points. People see my name with the high score, but I wouldn’t be anywhere without Bryan. He makes it so easy for me.”

Yarce is the Knights’ point guard, responsible for managing the flow of action on the court and putting the ball in the best possible position. Frequently, the best position is in the hands of Williams, the team’s best shooting guard. His job is to get into scoring position and sink baskets.

And that he does, averaging 22 points per game.

Williams comes from a basketball family. His father is a lifelong player and fan and his uncle played for the University of Connecticut. Williams’ brother Jordan, one year older than him at age 22, played with the Atlanta Hawks last year and is now a free agent in the NBA.

“It’s a crazy experience watching my brother, my best friend, on the same court with (Miami Heat power forward) Lebron (James) and all those guys,” Williams said. “It’s a humbling experience.”

Williams hopes to follow in his brother’s footsteps and make it to the world’s biggest basketball stage.

“That’s been my dream since I first threw a ball,” he said.

Desmond Williams shoots against Dean College on Dec. 6. Photo credit: Dan Aurelio.Williams’ experience at CCRI puts him one step closer to that goal. He wasn’t receiving a lot of attention from schools with big Division I programs when he came to CCRI in 2011, but now he is juggling invitations to play for Marymount University, Quinnipiac University, the University of Rhode Island, Providence College, Kansas State University and St. Bonaventure University.

“CCRI has brought me a lot of attention,” he said. “I came here to get looked at (by Division I schools) and to improve academically, and both of those things have happened.”

Williams has been playing basketball since he was about 4 years old. “My parents put a ball in my hands really early,” he said. ‘I’ve been around it my whole life.”

He was a star player in high school in his hometown of Torrington, Conn., and then spent a year playing for Putnam Science Academy, a Connecticut boarding school.

He came to CCRI when a friend told him that the college has a strong basketball program and a great coach.

Williams and the Knights went to the NJCAA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship last year, losing in the finals to Mott Community College of Flint, Mich.

“We just wanted to get to the tournament and win a game or two,” Williams said. Getting into the championship was nothing I ever expected. It was crazy.”

Williams and his teammates hope to get there again this year. “Losing the championship last year left a bad taste in my mouth,” he said. “I would love to win the championship this year for CCRI.”

He added that the Knights are performing well at the end of the season, perfecting their chemistry. They face two tough competitors in upcoming games: Dean College and Massasoit Community College, both in Massachusetts. These are regional competitors the Knights hope to defeat in a bid to host the regional playoffs on their home court.

Looming in the background as the Knights prepare for this tough schedule is the potential for Williams to climb higher on CCRI’s high scorer chart. He is closing in on top scorer Marvin Owens’ record of 1,407 points, but Williams is not dwelling on it.

“I always knew No. 1 was Marvin Owens,” Williams said. “Reaching his record was my goal, but I never thought I’d come this close to actually breaking it.”

Williams’ scoring record is a secondary objective to helping his team win. Harris said Williams is always ready to send the ball to another player who has a better chance of scoring.

“He doesn’t dwell on it,” Harris said, “I don’t dwell on it … [Williams] basically does what we need him to do. He does what the team needs.”

Harris added that while the whole team is proud of Williams’ achievements, they do not over-emphasize them. “When he broke 1,000 points, nobody even knew until the next day,” he said.

Williams thanked his coaches and fellow players for helping him succeed at CCRI. As he prepares for bigger arenas and stiffer competition next year, he said he will remember his time at CCRI.

“It’s been the best two years of my life,” he said.


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Last Updated: 1/31/14