Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a voter for the Heisman Trophy, has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, and has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Northside duo contributes big in Fayetteville
Jaylin Williams dunks the ball after JD Notae forced a turnover on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, during the second half of a 93-80 win over Northern Iowa inside Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Call it fitting an added blue collar to a white-collar player.
Or fitting an added white collar to a blue-collar player.
Whatever you call it, it seems Fort Smith Northside Coach Eric Burnett recently collared the market for best double pre-fitting Razorbacks before their basketball arrival to the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville.
For Coach Mike Anderson’s final Razorbacks season of 2018-19 and the 2019-20 advent of Coach Eric Musselman’s Arkansas era, Burnett from his state championship Grizzlies provided Isaiah Joe.
A willowy 6-5 white-collar shooting guard, Joe could nail three-pointers from different area codes, it seemed.
Defensively the white-collar shooter wore the bluest of blue collars. He did the down and dirty work, especially sacrificing his body taking more charges than American Express.
Joe donned collars so well he stayed a Razorback but two years. He’s into his second NBA season with the Philadelphia 76ers.
As Joe departed, Burnett UA delivered one of Joe’s 2017-18 state champion teammates.
Jaylin Williams, 6-10, 240, arrived from Northside doing all the blue collar work a muscular big man is expected. Rebound, set picks, score garbage points inside and be the team leading lightning rod team drawing charges. He so true freshman excelled to become Arkansas’ NCAA Tournament starting center on a 25-7 Elite Eight team.
Williams again dons that blue-collar role for these 5-0 Razorbacks, fitting in big man power forward tandem with 7-3 junior center Connor Vanover or playing center when the Hogs simultaneously employ two forwards or one forward and three guards.
He wears a white collar, too. For a rookie big man, Williams last season proved a credible ball-handling/passer 21 assists vs. 24 turnovers in 400 minutes of 26 games.
This season he’s been “phenomenal,” Musselman asserts.
Most point guards covering five games and 145 minutes envy Williams’ 22 assists vs. nine turnovers.
For these 5-0 Hogs, Williams four times led or seconded in assists.
He leads Arkansas in assists, rebounding and shot-blocking, and is second in steals becoming as valuable a 5.8 scorer as you’ll find.
A modest five is what he scored against Cincinnati in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City but led three categories and tied for steals.
“I thought Jaylin’s minutes were incredibly important to us,” Musselman said. “Four assists, two steals, four or five charges taken, 11 rebounds. I mean he’s a winner.”
A winner, the Hogs couldn’t have won without asserts Arkansas forward Au’Diese Toney even as Toney was the well deserved Hall of Fame Classic MVP.
“J-Will has the heart of a lion,” Toney said. “He doesn’t think about himself. He thinks about what he has to do for the team and what the team needs at the moment. He does everything. The little things that people don’t notice. J-Will is a big piece of the group.”
Big enough to wear white and blue collars.
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