Fort Smith Northside's Jaylin Williams presented an imposing figure at 6-foot-10 on the high school basketball court but he's worked hard to expand his game with an eye on making a quick splash in the collegiate ranks.
The senior once again averaged a double-double and claimed the title of Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Division I Boys Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Grizzlies coach Eric Burnett said Williams didn't rest on his laurels after leading Northside to the Class 6A state a year ago and earning state tournament MVP honors. He spent the offseason working on becoming a better perimeter shooter and improve his ball-handling.
"I feel like he improved shooting the ball and got more aggressive," Burnett said. "I think he got more confident on the AAU circuit. I think he felt like he was the man every time he stepped on the floor."
Springdale Har-Ber's Tommy Deffebaugh joined Williams among the All-NWADG superlatives being named the boys' Coach of the Year. Fayetteville's Corey Williams Jr. earned Newcomer of the Year honors.
Jaylin Williams, the Arkansas Razorback commit, helped lead Northside back to the state semifinals before falling to a red-hot Little Rock Central team, 40-37. Williams, who was held to single digits in scoring just once in 30 games, finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds in the season-ending loss.
His skills and athleticism should fit well at Arkansas, Burnett said. He finished the season averaging 19.3 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game for Northside, which finished 20-10.
"He can stretch the floor because he shoots the three so well," Burnett said. "He got stronger, too, and was able to handle the double- and triple-teams and still go finish."
Williams, who also earned Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year honors, said he worked specifically to improve his ball-handling and outside shot.
"When I talk to coach Muss [Arkansas coach Eric Musselman] they like position-less basketball," Williams said. "To make sure I'm on the court, I know I've got to be able to handle the ball and do everything else."
Deffebaugh made quite the journey as a longtime assistant mainly in the college ranks, but finally got his chance to be a head coach at Har-Ber. He guided the Wildcats to the 6A-West Conference championship and a state tournament berth in his first season.
Deffebaugh contacted Wayne Stehlik, athletic director for Springdale Public Schools, to give him a recommendation for a friend seeking a different job within the district, but Stehlik had something for him -- a job opportunity.
"All I did was just keep working hard, keep communicating, keep doing the right things," Deffebaugh said. "You hope someone will notice and give you an opportunity."
Deffebaugh persevered for 30 years as an assistant coach, which included 10 different colleges and two high schools, to earn his first high coaching position. He simply asked his players -- particularly the seniors -- how they wanted this chapter to be written.
"I didn't do anything magical," Deffebaugh said. "They wanted to have a great senior season as a collective group. They bought in and understood their role from senior nine to one."
The coach pointed to one big moment when the Wildcats rallied from an 18-point fourth-quarter deficit in just the fourth conference game of the season against Bentonville West on the road.
"It wasn't just one guy, everyone picked it up and did their job," Deffebaugh said. "And once we got in that dressing room it was a celebration."
Corey Williams Jr. joined the Fayetteville program in the summer after his father, Corey Williams Sr., was hired as an assistant coach on Musselman's staff at Arkansas.
Fayetteville coach Brad Stamps said he was a playmaker on both ends of the floor for the Purple Bulldogs.
"He gave us an extra perimeter player who could score, we knew we had that right off the bat," Stamps said. "But what was impressive was his progress on the defensive end. That gave us a chance to be highly successful.
"He picked it up on the defensive end late. We started putting him on an active offensive player and he was able to harass and limit what other teams wanted to do at that position."
The junior guard said he was able to get more and more comfortable thanks to his teammates and coaches. He averaged a little more than 12 points per game, but scored 35 and tied a school record with eight 3-pointers late in the season.
"It just took a while to grow with the team," Williams Jr. said. "I listened to coach Stamps and let the offense come to me and let my teammates find me and it all started clicking."
Player of the Year
Jaylin Williams FS Northside 6-10 Sr.
Averaged 19.3 points per game and 12.6 rebounds to go with 2.7 assists and 2.5 blocks shots for the Grizzlies and verbally committed to play at Arkansas
Coach of the Year
Tommy Deffebaugh Springdale Har-Ber
Led the Wildcats to a 6A-West conference title with a 21-5 record in his first season as the head coach.
Newcomer of the Year
Corey Williams Jr. Fayetteville 6-1 Jr.
Made an impact both offensively and defensively when he moved in this season from Florida, averaging 12 points per game including 35 against Rogers Heritage and tying the school record of 8 3-pointers in a game.
Player School Ht Class
JaJuan Boyd Springdale Har-Ber 6-0 Sr.
Averaged 10 points per game and earned all-state honors while wreaking havoc because of his athleticism and quickness on both ends of the floor to help the Wildcats win the 6A-West conference title.
Brayden Freeman Bentonville 6-5 Sr.
Earned all-state honors despite missing a chunk of the season because of an injury and averaged 12.5 points and 6.6 rebounds to help the Tigers earn a state tournament berth.
Lawson Jenkins Springdale Har-Ber 6-5 Sr.
Averaged 18 points and 6.8 rebounds to help the Wildcats to a 6A-West conference title while the Missouri Southern signee finished with 2,246 points in his high school career
Elliott Paschal Rogers 6-4 Sr.
Earned all-state honors average 11.7 points and 3.2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.6 steals and was also a force defensively for Rogers, which earned back-to-back state tournament berths.
Tamaury Releford Fayetteville 6-7 Jr.
Dominated inside for the Purple Bulldogs, averaging 17 points, 8 rebounds and one blocked shot per game leading Fayetteville to the Class 6A state semifinals.
Dillon Bailey Bentonville West 6-2 Sr.
Averaged 20.1 points per game, 4.9 rebounds and shot 39 percent from 3-point range to earn all-state honors and help the Wolverines claim a state tournament berth.
Jacob Joe, Fort Smith Northside 6-1 Jr.
Averaged 8 points per game and hit 44 3-pointers to help the defending state champions back to the semifinals
Cejay Mann Alma 5-10 Sr.
Averaged 19.2 points per game and 4.1 rebounds to earn all-state honors and help the Airedales to a 14-13 finish.
Drew Miller Rogers 6-2 Sr.
Averaged 12 points, 6 rebounds and 2.3 assists to earn all-state honors for the second consecutive season and help Rogers earn a state tournament berth for the second straight season.
Sawyer Price Bentonville 5-11 Sr.
Named the 6A-West Conference Defensive Player of the Year and was a driving force to help the Tigers claim a state tournament berth, averaging 8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals.
Class 6A Boys
Brayden Freeman Bentonville
Camden Hunter Bryant
Treylon Payne Bryant
CJ Camper LR Central
Caleb London Conway
Tamuary Releford Fayetteville
C.J. Williams Fayetteville
JaJuan Boyd Har-Ber
Lawson Jenkins Har-Ber
Spencer Simes North Little Rock
Kelel Ware North Little Rock
Bryson Warren North Little Rock
Jaylin Williams FS Northside
Drew Miller Rogers
Elliot Paschal Rogers
Class 5A Boys
Ceejay Mann Alma
Riley Marshall Beebe
Kobe Dunlap Greenbrier
Zane Butler Greene County Tech
Dylon Sessions LR Hall
Caleb Campbell Hot Springs
Santiair Thomas Hot Springs
Jadyn Walker Hot Springs
Jabari West Hot Springs
Davonte Davis Jacksonville
Christian Moore Jacksonville
Keyln McBride Jonesboro
Malique Hill Lake Hamilton
Adjani Winston Lake Hamilton
Layden Blocker Little Rock Christian
Makyi Boyce Marion
Detrick Reeves Marion
Tre Flowers Maumellle
Darvis Rasberry Maumellle
Wyatt Gilbert Mountain Home
Trey Allen Russellville
Taelon Peter Russellville
Tyler Cacciateri Sheridan
Nick Smith Sylvan Hills
Corey Washington Sylvan Hills
Jalen Randle Texarkana
Austin Koonce Vilonia
Tyler Moran Vilonia
Jordan Mitchell West Memphis
Chris Moore West Memphis
Sports on 03/27/2020
Print Headline: Williams expands game looking to college