Senior guard Isaiah Williams became the only Panther on this year’s Georgia State men’s basketball team to surpass the 1,000-career points mark, thus far on Jan. 20. What made accomplishing this feat that much more special for Williams was the fact that it came against arch-rival Georgia Southern. Williams finished that game with 13 points, four rebounds and two assists to help the Panthers secure an 80-66 win at home.
For Williams, scoring his 1,000th point could have come against any opponent, and he would have been ecstatic.
“It’s a great feeling, being in college for four years,” Williams said. “So it’s a great feeling.”
With accomplishing such a remarkable goal, Williams had to endure the challenge of getting an opportunity to produce points on the court. During the 2014-2015 season, Williams had to redshirt for one year due to NCAA transfer rules. After his redshirt year, Williams faced the challenge of battling for playing time against guards Kevin Ware and Isaiah Dennis. In fact, when both Ware and Dennis graduated, Williams had to adjust to a crowded backcourt once again with the arrival of D’Marcus Simonds and freshman Kane Williams.
Nonetheless, Isaiah’s biggest challenge on the road to 1,000-career points has been facing different defenses.
Williams’ most significant asset is his sharpshooting– it is perhaps the most efficient way he was able to surpass 1,000 career points as a Panther and will continue to add to that total. So, for him, being consistent in that regard is what ultimately matters.
“Making sure I am putting up extra reps after practice,” Williams said as to how he plans on being consistent for the remaining of the season.
He also added that he experienced many “late nights and early mornings” working on his craft. His mindset and work ethic is not surprising being that he is a senior. Not only is he providing leadership for this Panthers’ team, but he is also working towards possibly being able to play basketball at the next level.
However, Williams and the rest of the players that are currently on the roster know that head coach Ron Hunter has the tendency to substitute players frequently– especially if they are not carrying out the game plan he has aligned for his team. Hunter has not been shy to say that he has a considerable amount of talent on this year’s team, and if a player is not getting the job done, he has options on the bench.
For certain players, it can be quite discouraging to be substituted out of the game for one mistake, but for a veteran such as Williams, handling the situation with poise is crucial if you want to succeed playing for Hunter.
“You have to be right mentally with the way he [Hunter] coaches,” Williams said. “You gotta make sure your mind is sharp and not let it affect you when you come out because you know you are coming back in.”
It is worth mentioning, however, after the game against Georgia Southern, in which Williams contributed notably, Hunter was pleased with how he has been elevating his game as the schedule begins to thicken for the Panthers.
“Whenever you play in a season, there are your ups and downs; it’s how you handle the downs when things get that way,” Hunter said. “So he handled that very well, and every player kinda goes through it. But you’re starting to see right now as he’s peaking, our team is starting to peak right now.”
“My seniors are playing like seniors that want to win a championship. He’s [Isaiah] relaxed. Before, the crowd would get on him when he wouldn’t take those shots, and now he’s taking those shots. He just relaxed a little bit.”
So, how does Williams develop the mental toughness needed to be a shooter who doesn’t lose confidence in his shot?
“That is when the extra reps and all that comes in,” Williams said. “You always gotta have confidence when you are shooting, so the extra reps help with all that.”
Extra reps have obviously helped Williams accomplish notching 1,000-career points in a Georgia State uniform, but it is safe to say he is shooting for the Panthers to win the Sun Belt Championship this year and possibly much more.