While taking advantage of the early-signing period, the first member of Shaka Smart’s 2019 class inked his papers to officially become a Longhorn on Wednesday afternoon. Four-star Missouri City Elkins shooting guard Donovan Williams joins five-star center Will Baker and four-star center Kai Jones as the current members of the 2019 class to sign.
“Donovan is a versatile guard who can play and defend multiple positions,” Smart said in a statement per the school. “He is young for his age (will not turn 18 until September of 2019) but has shown rapid development in his game, and we’re excited about his terrific potential.”
After committing back in early September, Williams stuck with his pledge despite visiting other schools after his commitment. Williams visited Texas A&M, Miami, and Georgia each weekend following his pledge to Texas. He also visited Arizona State on Aug. 31 — the other school that rounded out his top five.
Head coach Shaka Smart and the opportunity to play right away at Texas was the standing difference for Williams.
“The staff and rich tradition is really what drew me to Texas and there is playing time for me right when I step onto campus, that is if I earn it,” Williams previously told Rivals’ Corey Evans of why Texas survived his cut.
Weeks removed from those remarks, now committed to Texas, Williams told Evans that his fit as far as everyday life as a Longhorn was a defining factor.
“The biggest thing I was looking for in a school was somewhere I felt I was going to fit not just in terms of basketball but also everyday life. But most importantly as I went through the process, it became more and more important to me to be able to play in front of my family.”
Another key factor in the recruitment of Williams was his long-standing relationship with Houston-area hoops icon John Lucas, who’s not only a revered presence in the basketball community, but the father of Texas assistant and former Longhorns point guard, Jai Lucas. Williams has spent time around and working with Lucas since his early childhood, and has previously noted that familiarity with someone close to the Texas program as a positive for Smart’s program.
At 6’5, 180 pounds, Williams ranked as the nation’s No. 111 overall player, No. 17 shooting guard, and as the No. 10 player in Texas, per the 247Sports Composite. He averaged 13.2 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 0.6 assists as a junior last season.
“I’m expecting to come in and do a lot of everything,” Williams told Evans. “They see me as a big guard who can stretch the floor with shooting and push the tempo with my transition ability. I think fans should be ready to be on their feet all game because the games will be exciting!”
Williams possesses some rare traits length and skill wise for a 6’5 guard. He plays bigger than he is and is aggressive on offense. He excels at slashing towards the basket off the ball and uses his long arms to get the ball up over bigger defenders towards the rim. Defensively, with his length, Williams is able to create turnovers by deflecting passes and can get out in-transition in a hurry with his long strides. He may be an option at the top of Smart’s full-court diamond pressure.
This year’s Texas team is desperately lacking an aggressive offensive option that can will his way to the rim and attack against defensive zones. Just as we saw on Monday night against Louisiana Monroe. Williams can fill that void next season.
Ball-handling, shooting in traffic, and on-court fluidity are noticeable areas where Williams can improve his game coming in as a guard. He possesses a solid shooting stroke that can be tweaked for a quicker release.
With Elijah Mitrou-Long and Courtney Ramey back at the shooting guard position next year, Williams is likely to develop into a true-wing player that takes on more of a small forward role when he gets to Austin.
Rivals recruiting analyst Eric Bossi spoke on Williams’ talent and potential upside: “Williams has turned into one of the most popular wing prospects in the country. With his 6-foot-5 size, smooth athleticism, skill, and big-time upside, Williams has always been a nice long-term prospect. But he’s arriving ahead of schedule.”