Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
The Recruiting Guy:
Northside's Williams getting college looks, expecting more
Ft. Smith Northside sophomore big man Jaylin Williams.
Fort Smith Northside sophomore center Jaylin Williams grew up hoping to get looks from college coaches and, now that it's happening, he’s determined keep it that way.
“I've got to stay the same,” Williams said. “I know I have to keep doing what I've got to do on the court. This is what I’ve been waiting on my whole life.”
Williams, 6-9, 215 pounds, is a key reason the Grizzlies will play for their second straight Class 7A state title against North Little Rock on Thursday afternoon in Hot Springs. He’s averaging 8 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and 2 assists per game this season.
Arkansas, Oklahoma State and Lamar are showing early interest, and the list of schools is expected to grow. His confidence level has increased during the season, and he gives his teammates a lot of the credit.
“They tell me what I can do and tell me what I need to do,” Williams said. “They tell me the only person holding me back is myself, and I know that now. I know what I can do.”
Williams, who’s expected to grow at least 2 more inches, said he can score in the paint and from midrange.
“I feel like if I need to take someone off the dribble, I feel like I can take someone off the dibble,” Williams said. “Anything defensive, I feel like I can do anything.”
He’ll join a talented 15-under Joe Johnson Arkansas Hawks squad this spring and summer and be able to showcase his skills to college coaches twice during April and three times in July during certified events.
“There will be way more coaches with us playing in the Gauntlet [series] and big tournaments,” Williams said. “I’ll have good teammates that will help me become better.”
Northside coach Eric Burnett said Williams’ basketball smarts, skills and potential growth make him an intriguing prospect.
“Jaylin is a big guy that has really good IQ of the game of basketball, and he has nice moves around the basket and can hit 10- to 12-foot jumper,” Burnett said. “And he has the chance of being a really, really good player at 6-10 or 6-11. His upside is really good.”
Williams is excited about the spring and summer, but he’s concentrating only on Thursday’s state title game.
“I’m focused on getting this ring,” Williams said.
The chance to play for the home state Razorbacks would be big for him.
“It would be amazing. I’ve been watching them my whole life,” he said.
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