Rutgers men’s basketball has added a much needed guard out of the transfer portal. Grad transfer Austin Williams just announced his commitment on Instagram. The veteran combo guard took an official visit to the program last month. He was finishing a summer class before announcing. His addition fills a major need for the program following the losses of starters Cam Spencer and Paul Mulcahy.
The two-time All-America East selection starred for Hartford previously. While he has one year of eligibility remaining, Williams will need a medical waiver to play next season. He transferred to Florida International (FIU) last year but didn’t play after sitting last season out with an injury. His waiver request appears straightforward, but it all depends on the unpredictable NCAA. This would be Williams’ seventh year in college.
The 6’4″, 200 pound guard fills a major need on the roster for next season. He is a bigger guard with experience who can create off the dribble and is effective in playing through contact. Williams is a good rebounding guard who is unselfish and shares the basketball. While he’s struggled with turnovers at times and isn’t a efficient three-point shooter at 29.0% in 111 games, he’s hit big shots throughout his career. Stepping up into the Big Ten, Williams is well suited as a rotational piece whose skill set complements projected starting guards Derek Simpson and Noah Fernandes well.
Before transferring to FIU in Conference USA, he was a standout player at Hartford for two seasons. In 2021-2022, Williams was a First Team All-America East selection after averaging 16.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game in 27 contests. He shot 50.0% from the floor including 56.0% from two-point range and 30.8% from three-point range. In the conference, he was 4th in scoring and assists while 5th in shooting percentage. While Williams shot just 61.4% from the foul line, he was very efficient in getting to the charity stripe. He was No. 171 nationally in fouls drawn rate at 5.0 per 40 minutes and had a free throw rate of 42.6%, which was No. 195 nationally. In addition, Williams was No. 216 nationally with a 23.7% assist rate and No. 369 with a 53.7% effective field goal percentage.
Williams led Hartford to its first ever America East title and an NCAA Tournament appearance during the 2020-2021 season. He averaged 21.3 points and 8.3 rebounds during the Hawks four postseason games in the America East Tournament and earned Most Outstanding Player for his 20 point, 8 rebound performance in the championship game. Williams scored a team high 19 points on 7 of 14 shooting as well as 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a blocked shot in a first round loss to Baylor in March Madness. During his junior season, Williams averaged 14.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.1 steals on 50.8% shooting from the floor in 24 contests.
Prior to Hartford, Williams played two seasons for Marist in the MAAC. He averaged 5.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists on 49.5% shooting in 60 total games.
The Roseland, New Jersey native starred for Seton Hall Prep in high school where he earned First Team All-Division honors.
Head coach Steve Pikiell has added a key piece to the puzzle for next season in Williams. As an older player who has excelled in the postseason previously, Williams should be a good fit with the culture of the program. Rutgers now has filled its roster for the 2023-2024 season. The final spot goes to Oskar Palmquist per a source. Read more about his return here.
Here is the current roster breakdown.
Frontcourt: Cliff Omoruyi, Mawot Mag, Antwone Woolfolk, Emmanuel Ogbole
Wing: Aundre Hyatt, Gavin Griffiths, Antonio Chol, Oskar Palmquist
Backcourt: Noah Fernandes, Derek Simpson, Austin Williams, Jamichael Davis, Jeremiah Williams
For a full breakdown of the roster including my detailed analysis, click here.
Watch highlights of Williams below:
An incredible 3 PT buzzer beater for Hartford’s Austin Williams to beat Binghamton. pic.twitter.com/lMtOJpTOjm
— FIBA Buzzer Beaters & Game Winners (@NCAABuzzerBters) January 3, 2021
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