With Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison gone there is going to be a very different look in George Mason’s front court next season. Johnny Williams sat out with a medical redshirt last year and has been working hard recovering from a shoulder injury. Patrick Stevens of the Washington Times wrote a feature on him yesterday
noting that Williams has slimmed down and is “sporting a redefined body”. He’s down to 245 pounds, last season he was listed at 266. The overhaul in his body and his game makes sense with the burly forward Erik Copes primed to a mainstay in the front court for three more seasons. Williams isn’t a tough inside guy and often would shy away from contact down low. Copes doesn’t, so the two should complement each other well next season. Also with junior Jonathan Arledge also in the mix Mason will have a more athletic front court than we have seen in recent years. Williams will be counted on to provide scoring in the front court and if his outside shooting has developed he could do some serious damage in the CAA. The team’s shortage of experienced forwards means the minutes will be there for him right from the start.
Williams never looked comfortable in Jim Larranaga’s rugged system for front court players. He never was able to mix it up in the paint and fight off guys for put-backs and rebounds. Paul Hewitt is slowly bringing in a new system that a guy like Johnny could flourish in. This off-season regime is no doubt tied to the fact that Hewitt wants to run and be more up-tempo next season. Hewitt discusses that issue more in the article:
“We’ll probably do a little more trapping and pressing. We didn’t want to wear Ryan [Pearson] out. Ryan was so important to us. I think this year’s team has more balance, and hopefully we can make the full court pressure more of a part of our game and maybe wear people out a little bit.”
With that in mind the team will no doubt look different and hopefully look more efficient on offense. More players will be handling the ball and there won’t be a #1 option like there was with Pearson last year. Opportunity is there for a lot of young players and we should see a balanced attack on offense. Williams could very well be one of those guys takes the opportunity and runs with it. It seems almost expected that he is going to have a breakout season and his work ethic this off-season is certainly pointing towards that notion.