Benny Williams’ freshman season undoubtedly went poorly. Coming in as a highly-rated prospect, there were expectations for Williams to play well right away and make an impact. But, with two experienced forwards in front of him, the freshman never made a real impact in a close game this season.
With the potential departures of both of those guys in Cole Swider and Jimmy Boeheim, Williams could be the eldest forward on the team next season and blossom into a star with a big leap this offseason. With his season now over due to an injury suffered against North Carolina on Monday, let’s go through a couple of steps that can turn Benny Williams into a quality ACC starter and a leader on next season’s Syracuse team.
1. Put this season in the past
Freshman years are hard for a lot of players, but not all are magnified to the level Williams’ has. It’s difficult to be the only freshman on the team, especially with so many eyes watching you. Putting this season in the rearview mirror and only taking away the positives are keys to moving forward.
No one gets anywhere in life or their careers by dwelling on the past, you have to focus on the present and the future. Freshman year is over, now it’s time to build a whole new view of yourself as a sophomore.
2. Put on some muscle
At only 208 pounds in his 6’8 frame, Williams has room to add weight. Battling with the big bodies of the ACC will be crucial to his success as a sophomore. This is also important on the defensive end, the most important part of the court in terms of playing time to coach Boeheim.
Added muscle can lead to added physicality by throwing your weight around in the paint. Rebounding is also a struggle in the 2-3 zone, and having more weight and muscle to throw around is huge for Williams’ success on the defensive end.
3. Work on offense from the Inside-Out
It was clearly a struggle on the offensive end for Williams this season. The freshman went over a month between field goals from January-February. Williams would constantly take fadeaway low percentage mid-range jump shots. These are not effective shots and not a good way to build confidence on the offensive end.
Getting an early layup or shot in the paint can be a jumpstart to a game, as seen against Duke when he scored a season-high 14 points. Working in the paint, crashing the offensive glass, and getting to the foul line are all effect confidence boosters and can set up your offensive game.
Once the confidence builds in the paint, it can be translated to the outside with jump-shooting. Williams has the potential to be at least an average shooter from outside, and with plenty of practice and more confidence, he can get there.
Overall, these are the three main things that can most benefit Benny Williams in between his freshman and sophomore season at SU. The Maryland native has a chance to take a huge leap and become a significant contributor to next season’s team with the potential departures. It’s all up to the work he puts in this offseason to see if he gets there.