As time ticked down in regulation in Wake Forest’s Jan 8. matchup against Syracuse, Alondes Williams brought the ball up the floor. The Demon Deacons needed just one basket to tie the game. Williams dribbled to the top of the arc, drew a double team from Syracuse’s Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard III, and threw a no-look laser to Dallas Walton, who cut in from the right corner for the game-tying dunk.
This was just one of Williams’ many highlight reel plays that have led Wake Forest to a 17-4 record in 2021-22, its best start in 13 years. After two seasons at Oklahoma where he started less than half of the team’s contests, Williams’ minutes have nearly doubled and his scoring average has tripled to 20.4 points per game, leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in both scoring and assists.
Williams’ teammates at Triton College (Illinois) and Oklahoma, where he spent a combined four seasons before joining Wake Forest, said that he always had the potential to have a breakout year, but hadn’t been given the freedom to do so until now. “ManMan,” as he is called by his teammates for as long as they can remember, is on track to be the ACC’s first player to lead the conference in points and assists in at least 20 years.
“A lot of us at OU knew that (he had this potential). Honestly I was waiting for somebody to let him rock out like that,” said De’Vion Harmon, who played with Williams for two years at Oklahoma and now plays at Oregon.
Megan Thompson | Design Editor
But before Williams’ debut season at Wake Forest, he was a three-star recruit out of Riverside University High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to 247Sports. Williams enrolled at Triton, a dominant junior college program outside of Chicago. Team captain Deonta Terrell’s first impression of Williams was that he was a “huge kid” because Williams would constantly joke around, which at first bothered the more serious Terrell.
Williams always smiled, laughed and cracked jokes, but his grit and basketball ability drew Terrell to him. Terrell said he assumed a big brother role to Williams, helping him adjust to the demands of college basketball and college life in general.
Although Williams wasn’t as fond of drills, conditioning and weightlifting, he had an insatiable desire to play as much pickup basketball as possible. After practice ended, he would badger his teammates to continue playing until the Triton gym closed. Once they had to leave, Williams begged his older teammates who had cars to drive to the nearby gym at Concordia University to continue playing.
“It didn’t matter, it could be 1 in the morning, 8 p.m. or we could be just getting out of practice, he’d ask, ‘Y’all tryna hoop?’” Terrell said. “We just got done practicing for three hours!”
At first the security guards at Concordia began kicking Williams and his teammates out of the gym late at night. But they soon befriended one of the guards, who let them stay in the gym even later. Former Triton teammate Martrell Barnes said Williams would spend hours shooting at the hoop in their apartment’s back alley too. Williams’ day wasn’t complete unless he played basketball, Terrell said.
“Alondes, he doesn’t care. He’ll hoop with a Walmart basketball, he’ll hoop with an NBA basketball. He just wanted to hoop,” Terrell said.
In Williams’ freshman season, he helped the Trojans to their first ever NJCAA Division II championship and a promotion to Division I for his sophomore campaign. Ahead of his junior year, Williams transferred to Oklahoma, joining a Sooners team coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances.
But at Oklahoma, Williams struggled to get consistent starts and competed for playing time with other guards like Harmon and current Los Angeles Laker Austin Reaves.
“At times we felt like they were trying to play us against each other, and (for) me and ManMan, that’s not how it was for us,” Harmon said. “It was like a brotherhood between us.”
Harmon, Terrell and Barnes all agreed that it took Williams leaving Oklahoma to show his true potential. Before he even appeared for Wake Forest, Williams believed he was going to be a major part of the team for the upcoming year, former Triton teammate Lamon Berry said.
Williams uses his passing ability to keep defenses honest and then hurt them at all three levels. His 54.5% shooting percentage ranks fourth in the ACC and of the 13 players in the ACC who grab more rebounds than him, all but one are taller than him.
While he only recorded 15 double-digit scoring games at Oklahoma, he has scored at least 10 points in every game this season. Against University of South Carolina Upstate on Dec. 11, Williams tallied Wake Forest’s second-ever triple-double. Three days later, he dropped 36 points on VMI and three days after that, he scored 34 against Charlotte.
“He plays basketball the right way. He’s not a selfish player so I feel like they just took the chains off him and allowed him to be free and do his thing,” Terrell said.
The post Alondes Williams’ rise from junior college to ACC scoring, assists leader appeared first on The Daily Orange.