San Diego State basketball fans did not see much of D'Erryl Williams in his freshman year, thanks in large part to Xavier Thames who played what seemed like nearly every minute of last season.
Williams (6'2", 195 pounds), out of Sheldon High School (along with Dakarai Allen), in Sacramento, California, averaged just 6.4 minutes per game last season, fifth lowest on the team. A lot of that had to due with a back strain that hampered Williams throughout the season. Yet even when on the floor, he averaged less than a point and assist per game.
Without Thames in the equation, SDSU's point guard situation looks like it will revolve around four players: senior Aqeel Quinn, freshmen Trey Kell and Kevin Zabo, and Williams. What had been a strength for this team last year all the sudden becomes a mystery.
Having played in 20 games last year, including the game against North Dakota State in the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament, Williams gives Steve Fisher and the coaching staff a security blanket of experience while Zabo and Kell are groomed as the backcourt of the future.
Expect Williams to improve on his low point-per-game and assist-per-game numbers this season. Without the back strain and Thames, he should accumulate much more than 6.4 minutes per game.
However, don't expect Williams to put up numbers comparable to the likes of his fellow backcourt mates Zabo, Kell, Quinn and Winston Shepard. Williams is a true point guard in the sense that he looks to set up others more than he's trying to score. He also does not turn the ball over. In 127 total minutes last season Williams turned the ball over just three times, a pretty remarkable number for a true freshman.
Williams also brings a level of tenacious defense very similar to that of Thames. Williams stays low to the grand, keeps his arms out toe stay big and isn't afraid to use his quick hands to go for the steal. And he was this strong a defender just a freshman las year; by the time he reaches his senior year, he very well be a better defender than Thames was. Often during the season Williams' teammates on the bench would jump up and get excited just from watching the then-freshman go after his man on defense.
Looking at last season's numbers, it would be easy to write Williams off and assume he won't have much of an impact this season. But Williams will be extremely valuable this season because he provides experience to a point guard position that will include two incoming freshman.
His contribution to the Aztecs this season may in fact be a backup role to spell whoever is in at point guard, but his experience with the Sweet 16 team from last year leaves SDSU in good hands while Zabo and Kell develop.