St. John's the right fit for LCA's high-flying guard Greg Williams

James Bewers
The Daily Advertiser
Lafayette Christian's Greg Williams dunks the ball against Covenant Christian in first half action of the Quarterfinals game in Lafayette Thursday, March 2, 2017.

Since Greg Williams Jr. was a toddler, Greg Williams Sr. has tried to steer his son into a future in basketball.

But was there a moment when Williams Sr. realized Williams Jr. was good enough to play at the college level?

“The first time I saw him dunk as a sixth grader,” Williams Sr. said. “Sixth grade dunking the ball, I was like, ‘That’s pretty good.’”

Indeed, Williams Jr. has a knack for that dunking thing. The 6-foot-3 senior guard from Lafayette Christian excels at getting to the hoop, slashing to the basket off the dribble and contorting his body to finish in traffic. He sees the floor well, too, and is more than capable of playing both ways.

“I always classify him as a combo player,” said LCA coach Byron Starks. “Probably at the next level, they may play him more at point guard. But I think he can do a lot more in having a dual-threat on the floor, where you have a guy that can shoot the ball and score and he can also facilitate and handle the ball.”

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His athleticism is huge reason Williams Jr. attracted more than 40 scholarship offers, including from St. John’s head coach Chris Mullins, the Hall of Famer who returned to coach his alma mater in 2015.

On Wednesday, Williams Jr. put ink to paper, signing his National Letter of Intent to play for the Red Storm during a ceremony on LCA’s campus.

Williams Jr., who averaged 15.2 points per game during the Knights’ state title run in 2017, is a three-star prospect, per 247Sports. The recruiting service ranks him as the third-best player from Louisiana and No. 28 overall shooting guard. He’s the third player to commit to St. John’s 2018 class, which ranks 46th nationally.

Williams Jr., the Most Outstanding Player in Class 1A a year ago, had narrowed his choices down to five schools, including Nevada and Tulane. He made the decision on Monday, Nov. 13, a symbolic date to him because it was his birthday and the number he wears.

He had no qualms about attending school so far away from home, joking that New York City is a “little smaller” than Lafayette but “I could deal with it.”

“It’s a good opportunity,” Williams Jr. said of playing basketball at the university in Queens. “Even though I’ve said before that I wasn’t afraid to go away, I know that eventually it could possibly happen. So I felt like that was the best opportunity for me.”

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“I know (my family will) be supporting me from afar, so I’m not really worried about that,” he continued. “I always talk to them and everything.”

The biggest reason Williams Jr. chose St. John’s was the Johnnies’ guard-oriented system under Mullins, which mirrors what Starks runs at LCA. St. John’s plays up-tempo, and its top five scorers in 2016 were all guards.

Williams Jr. got a good look at the Johnnies’ system when he visited on Oct. 27.

“By me going there, I saw them scrimmage and things like that,” Williams Jr. said. “So I could picture myself in their system, and it was good. They get up and down. They’re a (guard-oriented) team, so I can play off the ball and on the ball."

Williams Sr. agreed Mullins’ experience in the NBA, as both a player and an executive, played a role in swaying his son, who aspires to play professionally, to St. John’s.

“If you aspire to go to the next level, when you have someone who runs pro sets as opposed to college sets, I think it gives you a definite advantage,” Williams Sr. said. “And that’s wonderful.”

Starks lauds the guard’s unselfish, team-first nature despite his immense skill set. Williams Jr. has been at LCA since he was in the first grade and became a starter on the varsity team as an eighth-grader, so Starks considers him to be a “staple of the program.”

“He’s willing to do whatever it takes to win,” Starks said. “If I say, ‘We need you at the 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5, he can make the adjustments.”

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