MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The expectations awaiting West Virginia’s Devin Williams were high from the moment be became a consensus top-100 recruit, and they escalated when the Mountaineers learned they would be without two other frontcourt signees.
Though Williams has responded with a solid freshman season—compiling 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds while starting all but one game—he hasn’t delivered the dominant performances that were unfairly projected.
“He’s top five in the league (in rebounding), which most people would be doing cartwheels for, but we need him to do more,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “We’ve put more on him.”
With the 6-foot-9 Elijah Macon and 6-7 Jonathan Holton forced to sit out this season, Williams essentially became WVU’s only interior scoring threat. His inability to finish against taller defenders has resulted in 42-percent field-goal shooting, and when combined with similar struggles at the foul line, Williams hasn’t given WVU the kind of low-post offense it needs to complement a roster heavy on jump shooters.
“We’re asking Devin to do a lot of things,” Huggins said. “We’re all sitting here complaining that Devin isn’t doing what (Kevin Jones) did when he was a senior, and the reality is KJ didn’t do that when he was a freshman.
“We’re expecting and demanding a lot from a first-year guy. We’re getting almost 10 and 7 from him and we need him to do more.”
In some instances Williams has pressured himself to post All-American numbers. After a 13-rebound effort in a narrow loss to Oklahoma State, he remarked that he should be getting 20 rebounds a game. Yet two nights later against Texas, he grabbed zero rebounds in 16 minutes, albeit while saddled with illness.
“It’s a physical league so you have to have physical play,” said the freshman, who suggests he’s learning the path to consistency. “Your mindset has to be to come out focused and get down there and brawl a little bit.”