Williams begins career as a Panther

Isaiah Williams is currently third on the team in scoring. Photos by Dayne Francis | The Signal
Isaiah Williams is currently third on the team in scoring.
Photos by Dayne Francis | The Signal

Redshirt sophomore Isaiah Williams may be quiet and laid back, but his basketball skills and determination speaks volumes.

At the age of five Williams began to play basketball under the instruction of his father, who at the time coached a recreational team in Collins Hills. Williams continued his athletic career as a multiple sport athlete until his sophomore year in high school. At this point Williams knew he wanted to pursue basketball full time. Therefore, he placed baseball to the side and began to play basketball year round.

During his senior season in high school, 2012-13, Williams scored a career-high 25 points against North Hall. He then helped lead his high school team to the Final Four. Williams’ ability to score, rebound, and dominate small defenders made him a prime recruit at the point guard position. Williams received offers from Ole Miss, Chattanooga, Jacksonville, and Samford.

After graduating from Buford High School, Williams attended Samford University where he played his 2013-14 season at the point guard position.

“At the point guard position you basically have to orchestrate the offense,” Williams said. “Basically make sure everyone is in the right spots and make sure it runs properly.”

Williams averaged 11.9 points, 3.4 assists, and 1.8 rebounds during his freshman year with Samford. While at Samford, Williams led the team in assists, three-pointers made and was the second highest scorer for the 2013-14 season. He also received honors such as 2014 Southern Conference Freshman of the Year, Four-time Southern Conference Freshman of the Week and 2014 Southern Conference All-Freshman Team.

Even though these accomplishments are noteworthy, Williams does not take time to look back at what he has done so far. He is always striving to become a better player.

“I don’t really pay too much attention to that, I just come out and play my game,” he said. “I don’t really worry about the awards.”

Later Williams decided to transfer schools, and Georgia State was on his list. When visiting the campus for the first time, Williams fell in love immediately. However, it wasn’t just the campus that sold Williams on attending Georgia State. He also fell in love with coach Hunter as well as the basketball staff. The hard working individuals along with the winning program convinced Wiliams that this was the right move.

A primary focus for Williams is family.

“I was coming back home. That was a big reason I came to Georgia State was to be close to my family and come back home,” he said.

Former high school teammate and now senior forward, T.J. Shipes, was excited to see Williams transfer to Georgia State.

“I knew how talented he was in high school even though he was a few years behind me,” Shipes said. “He is a dynamic player who has brought a lot to our team this year. Even though I will be gone after this year, I look forward to watching him grow and continue to help the program for years to come.”

Williams officially transferred to Georgia State, but the 2014-15 season did not workout in his favor. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he had to redshirt his first year as a Panther.


“That was easily probably the hardest year of my life, not being able to play,” he said. “I had to just sit and watch, but I feel like it helped a lot.”

Although Williams experienced this trying year, he held on and is now able to play along side of his teammates. He described the feeling of being able to hit the court again as great. He has entered the 2015-16 season as an impact player offensively and defensively.

Williams was able to showcase his evolving skills and close out the game against Middle Tennessee. Williams completed two free throws with 3.6 seconds remaining in the second half resulting in a 64-62 Panther Victory. This was a big game for Williams as he totaled 13 points, five assists, and two steals. He also went 9-for-12 from the free-throw line.

“Isaiah Williams is an extremely talented player who is going to be a huge part of our success for the next few years,” Coach Hunter said. “Considering that he was not able to play last year, I think he is making great progress this year.”

He has no problem contributing to Panther victories with a steady accumulation of points or finding the best shot. However,  there is one thing Williams would like to work on. The biggest skill he would like to improve on is being a better vocal leader. Williams is known for his reserved demeanor, but in spite of that, he knows that playing at the guard position calls for him to step up and become a key member in communication.

Williams recognizes that this responsibility will soon be his, so he is taking notes and practicing those vocal skills from one of his teammates, Kevin Ware.

“He stepped up a lot this year and became a better leader,” Williams said. “I feel like next year when he’s gone I’m going to have to take that role so that I can learn from him.”  

The 2015-16 season is only the beginning for Williams. He will continue to learn as well as set new goals that he wants to accomplish by the time he graduates. One of these goals includes winning a Championship. After the Panthers 2014-15 NCAA Tournament run, Williams’ goal has the potential to become a reality one day.

“It takes a while to get adjusted to our system, but I think he is doing a great job, and I really enjoy coaching him,” Coach Hunter said.

Williams will continue to play at the point guard position for the remainder of the 2015-16 season and will work on his skills as well as motivate his teammates along the way.