Da’Monte Williams: Our Legally Required Frank Williams Themed Feature Story


da'monte williams

All hard core fans of any given team are familiar with this standard broadcast archetype-

When your team is on national television, the announcers espouse an anecdote/factoid/talking point that is news to the national audience, but completely old hat to you. Illinois basketball will not likely have a lot of nationally televised games, but every single one of them will reference something every local fan has already heard a zillion times:

Illini freshman Da’Monte Williams is the son of Illinois legend and former All-American Frank Williams.

frank williams

As this is Williams the Younger’s first season in Champaign, and a week ago today his first formal media opportunity as an official member of Illini basketball, we’re going to get our legacy device piece out of the way now. Yes, we know that we’re being very unoriginal in what we’re doing right now, but hey, it’s still 23 days until tip-off so now is the time.

Ask anyone about Da’Monte Williams, and the first thing that comes to mind is his father, who will likely become a member of the second ever Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame class next year. His father’s jersey is one of just 33 honored in the arena rafters high above the court. Frank Williams is 17th all time in scoring and ninth in assists at UI, and he won B1G Player of the Year in 2001.

Illini basketball Coach Brad Underwood said at Media Day that Da’Monte has a similar feel to Frank Williams, but he’s a more explosive leaper, with a chance to become an elite defender.

illini basketball

“Da’Monte plays at a pace that is natural, casual,” Underwood said, adding that through 9 practices, if there is a pleasant surprise thus far though practice, it’s Da’Monte Williams.

“Terrific, terrific, terrific feel,” the rookie coach said. “He has an it factor that is just natural. Whatever it is, he has it.”

The it factor about Da’Monte Williams is obviously strongly connected to his father, and all that he accomplished. He also went to the same high school as his dad, Peoria Manual, the legendary prep program and Illinois basketball pipeline (don’t forget this motif! We’re squeezing more cliches into this article).

Williams was ranked the #93 overall recruit by ESPN, who granted him four-star status, as did Rivals. Thus, expectations are very very high for this instant impact freshman. He also has the advantage of being very familiar with the school and the program before he first set foot on campus as a student.

As an alum, from a family of alums myself, I cannot understate enough what a huge advantage that is for a true freshman.

frank williams

Leaving home for the first time and going away to college is a huge adjustment for a teenager, and the fact that I visited UI many many times over the years certainly helped ease that burden. Da’Monte Williams has the same attribute going for him.

Now when you’re a legacy star athlete, most of the questions you receive are about your famous parent, and knowing full well how much Da’Monte has heard these queries all his life, I asked him what the craziest question about his dad that he’s ever received is.

Williams said that it’s “who wins when he plays one-on-one against his dad?” Turns out the last time they played was when he was in 7th grade, and they split their two meetings. For more with Da’Monte Williams at Media Day, listen to the clip below:

We hope you enjoyed the Da’Monte Williams puff piece feature story, we promise not to do a football version (on Jeff George Jr.) any time soon.

Illini basketball season preview series

Mark Smith

Mark Alstork

Da’Monte Williams

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now and Minute Media. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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