Kevin Stallings and staff continue to pursue graduate transfers to fill out their roster. A pair of former St. John’s players are heavily on the Panthers’ radar, guard Malik Ellison and forward Darien Williams. Ellison visited Pitt several weeks ago and recently announced that he’s down to three schools for his final decision: Pitt, Virginia and Harvard. Ellison will have to sit out one season before concluding his collegiate career.
Darien Williams, a 6-foot-8 inch, 230 pound power forward, came off the bench in 24 contests last season and averaged 12.4 minutes per game for the Red Storm in 2016-17. He averaged 4 points and 3 rebounds per game while shooting 54 percent from the field and 72.7 percent from the free throw line. Williams is known as a physical presence in the paint.
“I’m talking to Pitt, Nevada, UConn, Washington State and Mississippi State,” said Williams. “Coach Stallings and (Dan) Cage have been my main contacts. “I will have two years of eligibility. I redshirted my sophomore year and them my junior year when I first got to St. John’s. I only played in three games, so I’m eligible for a medical redshirt.”
Williams is cognizant of the Panthers wide open roster and need for big men. “Yeah, I know their situation. To be honest, anywhere I go I’m going to play because I’m going to put in the work in to earn the time,” he said. “You know now, because I was coming off injury this past year, it was my first time to be playing in two in a half years. I hadn’t played since the end of my freshman year. Before that I had only really played for like month or a month and a half consistently. This year for me was just about finishing the season and finishing healthy. (Pitt) does have playing time that’s open. Obviously, I’ve got to work for it but I think it could be a good situation.”
Williams was asked to talk about his strengths on the basketball court. He stated, “Versatility. If you look at my stats from this year it doesn’t really tell the full story because, for one, this is my first time playing in a long time so I was just getting my feel back.”
“If you look I had one 3-pointer and that was at the end of the season. My first year in junior college I was a 40% three point shooter, I made 37 threes and I bring defense as well. Talking on defense and being in the right spots and leadership.”
A number of schools have reached out to Williams. He was asked what he was looking for specifically from the programs he would be visiting. He stated, “Really, I’m just looking for a good opportunity. I won’s ask coaching for anything or say, ‘Hey, I need to do this or I need promises’. I just want the opportunity to be able to play my game the way I can which I have showed them. Whatever school I end up at, just being able to play the right way and, like I said, play how I play.”
Williams articulated that he was ‘a competitor’ and the thoughts of playing against top level competition in the ACC conference was very appealing to him.
Williams and Malik Ellison are not just former St. John’s teammates. They are actually close friends. Will that play a factor in his recruiting? “Malik and I, we’re like best friends. We actually live together,” he said. “That’s like my best friend. We do pretty much everything together. We’ve talked about, he was actually talking to Pitt and when he was going on a visit I hadn’t even talked to them. He came and he raved about his visit and he was telling me like, ‘Hey, man. You know, I think they might be interested in you. You should really look at them.’ Once, the coaching staff did that research on me, they really wanted me. He and I pretty much talked every day about us potentially playing together again.”
Williams has yet to schedule an official visit with Pitt but he hopes to lock on down soon.
Harry Psaros can be found on twitter at @PittGuru