Bryson Williams Helping to Lead the Way for Texas Tech
When Bryson Williams chose to leave UTEP for Texas Tech this past summer, some Miners fans thought that he would regret the decision. The 6'8 forward was the best player on UTEP over the past two seasons, but he wanted an opportunity to showcase his skills on the bigger stage with a program that has been one of the best in college basketball. Would Bryson become a smaller fish in a big pond at Texas Tech? 17 games into the season, it is obvious that Williams made the right choice.
While the Miners are a 9-8 basketball team in Joe Golding's first season as head coach, Tech is 13-4 and currently ranked 19th in the country. The Red Raiders lost Saturday afternoon to Kansas State, ending a seven day stretch that saw Tech knock off #9 Kansas, #1 Baylor, and Oklahoma State. Bryson dropped 22 points in the win over the Jayhawks and led the team with 20 points in the loss to K-State. He is averaging about 30 minutes a game in conference play, and quickly became one the team's most reliable scoring options.
For the season, he is averaging 11.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, with only 18 turnovers in 16 games played. Williams has benefitted from a talented supporting cast in Lubbock and head coach Mark Adams. His field goal and three point percentages are up compared to his two seasons at UTEP, but his free throw shooting has been down almost 14% from last season.
Barring a collapse in conference play, Texas Tech is a lock to make the NCAA Tournament in March and Williams will have an opportunity to finish his college career with a chance to win a National Championship. He will also get to play his former head coach Rodney Terry, who is now an assistant at Texas. Tech will host the Longhorns on February 1st before they meet again in Austin two and a half weeks later.
It remains to be seen if the move by Williams to Tech will improve his NBA Draft stock. The former Fresno State forward was not projected to go in the top two rounds over the last few years while he was at UTEP. While I believe staying in El Paso and playing for Joe Golding would have helped his development, there is no denying that starring at Tech and playing in the Big 12 will get Bryson more NBA scouting and visibility. However, unlike Red Raiders teammate Terrence Shannon Jr., most NBA draft boards do not have Williams as a top 100 overall prospect. The next two months will be extremely important for not just Tech but also for Bryson's pro career.