Troy Williams arrived in Bloomington to the Indiana University campus with the reputation of a high-flying dunker along with high expectations as the program was celebrating its first Big Ten Championship and reloading from the loss of Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller.
Williams came to the Hoosiers as one of the best players in the 2013 recruiting class. This class included Noah Vonleh, who was selected with the ninth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Entering the 2015-2016 season, many Indiana fans hoped and expected Troy Williams would make a Oladipo-esque improvement in his junior year, considering the fact he had been compared to Oladipo ever since he committed to Tom Crean and Indiana. The comparisons weren’t surprising as the two both came into college as extremely athletic wings with the raw potential that coaches love to see in their players. Oladipo made a burst onto the college basketball scene and then entered the NBA Draft to be selected No. 2 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. Williams didn’t make that jump this year, but considering the unfair expectations coming into the season, he had a good year for the Cream and Crimson.
Troy Williams is ready for the NBA.
“I’m very happy and looking forward to this opportunity,’’ Williams said. “I had interest from several teams, but Memphis just seemed like the right fit.’’
The former Oak Hill Academy standout made steady improvements each year at Indiana. After a not-so-exciting freshman year, Williams took a step forward during sophomore year, getting more comfortable with the college game, taking more shots, and improving his shooting efficiency and offensive rating to almost 113. He took the next step as a rebounder (4.4 to 7.4 a game), using his athleticism and instincts to find the basketball. It was evident from the beginning of his career at Indiana that Williams needed to improve on his outside shooting. Williams shot just 12-for-42 from outside in his first two seasons, while going 26-for-75 this past season. In the ever-changing NBA game, a player shooting 35 percent from beyond the arc isn't great, but Williams managed to knock down over 50 percent from the floor in each of his three seasons. He managed to become a key part on a roster of a team that won an outright Big Ten Championship.
When Williams played well, he became one of the most exciting wing players to watch during a Big Ten game. He was the master at Indiana of highlight reel dunks and put-backs as well as out-of-nowhere-blocks. That is Troy Williams of Indiana basketball.
But what made him so frustrating to watch was when he tried to do too much and became out of control with the basketball. Williams would either make a spectacular play while driving to the rim, or he would drive into a turnover. An NBA coach can't teach height and athleticism to a player, and Troy possesses both of those attributes, but at times he will be very unpredictable. Williams averaged 2.7 turnovers per game this past season, causing Indiana fans to pull their hair out.
Many fans identified Williams as "Good Troy" and "Bad Troy" when he was in the game. Sound familiar? Good Troy could break open games with exciting plays. Bad Troy would commit run-killing turnovers that could end up in the stands, and then disappear in big games in the regular season. Against Denzel Valentine and Michigan State on February 14th, the Spartans won 88-69. Williams had zero points, while Valentine scored 30 points to go along with 13 assists.
Prior the NBA Draft, ESPN’s Jay Bilas had this to say about the Indiana product:
“I think Troy Williams is probably going to be at or around the end of the second round. I do think he’s a draftable player because of his athleticism, his ability to run the floor, and his ability to finish plays in transition. And I think he can be a good defender because he kind of fits the suit there. He’s got size; he’s not crazy long, but he’s a high-flyer. He’s explosive, he plays with a lot of energy. More of a driver than anything, but really did a good job in transition. Can hit some perimeter shots, but not quite an NBA range 3-point shooter. I think he should be a better defender with his athleticism, but he’s done a good job. I think his value is in the fact that he brings energy, athleticism and he can finish plays. He’s just got to play with a little more efficiency. Not turn the ball over, take better shots, things like that.”
The good Troy Williams is a nice fit with the Memphis Grizzlies. The bad Troy Williams will have to be left at home if he wants to become a successful player in the NBA. Crimson Quarry had this to say about the Grizzlies and Williams before the draft:
Here's a wildcard for you. The Memphis Grizzlies, however, would be an absolutely great landing spot for Williams for one main reason:
First. Team. All-Defense.
Tony Allen would be a perfect mentor to Williams because, like Troy, he can't shoot! His skill set is similar to Williams' and he can help bring out the strengths in Williams' game.
More than that, the Grizzlies have a history of drafting non-shooters who are good at defense, so Williams further fits their M.O. With Matt Barnes' contract off the books, Lance Stephenson holding a team option and Vince "How Is He Still In The League" Carter on his last year of his deal, Williams could bring some much needed youth to the wing rotation.
And who wouldn't want a Stephenson-Allen-Williams-Randolph-Gasol lineup that no one would score on?
Troy Williams will have to stay out of trouble as he transitions to the NBA. In 2014, Williams and teammate Stanford Robinson were suspended for failing drug tests prior to the start of the season.
Williams is the human equivalent to a roller coaster ride at Disney World or Six Flags. When he's on point, hes good, he's great. But when he’s off, it becomes a bumpy ride.
Trick or Treat 2.0? Time will tell.