2017-18 SEC Player Preview: Robert Williams

In Features by Blake Lovell

Texas A&M forward Robert Williams did not have a typical freshman season.

In his first game with the Aggies, he blocked five shots. That was the starting point towards the nation’s longest blocked shot streak at 32 games and the honor of SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

In his fifth game with the Aggies, he recorded his first double-double. That was the starting point towards 11 double-doubles on the year, which ranked second in the SEC.

Of course, Williams provided much more production than just points, rebounds, and blocked shots.

But for now, this is the most important part of the equation: starting point.

Last season was simply a starting point for Williams.

And that’s a scary thought when wondering just how good his encore could be this season.

Inside the Numbers

The aforementioned averages for Williams’ freshman season certainly stand out:

  • 11.9 points per game
  • 8.2 rebounds per game
  • 2.5 blocks per game

But here’s a number that should strike a lot of fear in the opposition this upcoming season:

55.8.

That was Williams’ shooting percentage from the floor last year.

More importantly, Williams proved that he could be highly efficient against some of the nation’s top teams. In a December loss to Arizona, he shot 8-of-11 from the field (72.7 percent). In a March loss to Kentucky, he went 9-of-15 (60 percent).

If he finds that same type of touch this season, he’ll once again be difficult to handle.

What They’re Saying

“His athleticism is at such a high level that he’s worked on putting the ball on the floor and driving the ball more. He would settle for jumpshots sometimes last season.

We’re really trying to work with him and Tyler (Davis) on playing together and working out of a double team because they both got doubled quite a bit.” –

Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy on the Marching to Madness podcast this summer

Lovell’s Analysis

It seems likely that Williams will be the league’s best defensive player for a second straight season.

But his overall development on the offensive end of the floor will decide whether he can add SEC Player of the Year to his résumé.

As Kennedy mentioned in this summer’s podcast, Williams has been working diligently on making more plays off the bounce. If he’s able to add that dimension to his game while also being able to expand his shooting range, he’ll be tough to stop.

In early mock drafts for the 2018 NBA Draft, most project Williams as a lottery pick. But perhaps that range isn’t specific enough.

Judging by the skills and athleticism that we saw from him during his first season in College Station, Williams can be a top five pick.

If he plays like a top five pick this year, the Aggies should be one of the favorites for the SEC regular season crown.

Blake Lovell is the founder of Southeast Hoops. He also hosts the Marching to Madness (national college basketball) and Southeast Hoops (SEC basketball) podcasts, which include interviews with coaches around the country. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Athlon Sports, Rivals, FanRag Sports, and many more.