Despite limited touches, ‘J3’ making big impact on court
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Wearing his stylish glasses and decked out in
sports coat and tie for his media guide profile, Missouri’s Johnathan
Williams III doesn’t look the part of lunch-pail role player. Aspiring
accountant, perhaps, but definitely not a garbage-collector type.
208 pounds, according to the media guide, anyway, Williams lacks the
bulk typically required to thrive as a banger in the low post. And
considering the 6-foot-9 freshman from Memphis came to Missouri with the
loftiest credentials of any recruit in recent history, you would expect
him to make his mark more as a scorer than rebounder.
certainly possesses the skills to become a big-time point producer
someday. But until that day arrives, he’s figured out how he can make an
impact in any game.
young man his teammates call “J3” proved as important as any player on
the floor in the Tigers’ 80-71 victory over No. 18 UCLA on Saturday.
Williams grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds, blocked two shots and altered
numerous others and, despite limited touches in Missouri’s
guard-oriented offense, managed to score 10 points and finish with his
asked about the Tigers’ terrific trio of Jordan Clarkson, Jabari Brown
and Earnest Ross, all of whom topped 20 points, he brought up Williams
on his own.
appeared to be headed for a third consecutive non-productive game after
a first half he finished with two points and five rebounds. But after a
little halftime motivation from coach Frank Haith, Williams took over
inside for much of the second half. In one stretch, he scored six points
on offensive rebounds, including two on free throws with 9:30 remaining
that gave Missouri a lead, 62-60, that it would keep the rest of the
wasn’t the only one. UCLA, which came in averaging 90.6 points, was on
its way to its norm during a 45-point first half when it made 15 of 30
shots, including five of 12 3-pointers. But then the Tigers turned up
the defense. The Bruins (8-1) went 0 for 8 on 3-pointers and 8 for 31
overall after intermission to finish with their lowest output of the
said. “They got us out of what we normally like to do. The first half
we did the things we’ve been doing all year — we played with good pace,
we shared the ball, we were pretty active defensively. In the second
half … we didn’t do those things.”
victory was the first by an SEC team over a ranked team this season and
left Missouri (9-0) as the conference’s only unbeaten team. It also
extended the Tigers’ home winning streak to 24 games, longest in the
nation, and their non-conference winning streak to 79 games.
thought we turned the ball over way too much in the first half (12
turnovers), so there were a lot of buckets in the transition in the
first half,” Haith said. “Once we were able to set our defense and
guard, we were going to be OK. This team has really improved
why. A starter since the first game, Williams has endured his share of
rookie ups and downs. He had 17 rebounds against Gardner-Webb and a
double-double against IUPUI, but scored a total of two points with eight
rebounds against Nevada and West Virginia.
not only has had to adjust to the faster, more physical college game, he
has had to settle into a role far different than he had last year, when
he averaged 18.9 points and led Southwind High to a Tennessee state
said. “He was the guy, he was able to shoot 3s and do a lot of different
things. When you go to college, you have to understand your role.
That’s why you see freshmen take a while to get adjusted to play to help
their team win. He’s doing a great job of understanding that’s what we
need him to do for us in order to win.”