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story.lead_photo.caption Fort Smith Northside standout Jaylin Williams, an Arkansas commit, led the Grizzlies back to the Class 6A state tournament this season and averaged a double-double. The 6-10 senior has been named the All-NWADG Division I boys basketball Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Justin Cunningham)

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.

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FILE -- Tommy Deffebaugh, Springdale Har-Ber head coach, reacts late in the game vs Bentonville West Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, at Wolverine Arena in Centerton. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Ben Goff)

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."

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FILE -- Corey Williams, Jr. of Fayetteville shoots as Tavari Eckwood (5) of Springdale Har-Ber defends Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, at Bulldog Arena in Fayetteville. Go to nwaonline.com/photos to see more photos. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Ben Goff)

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.

First Team

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.

Second Team

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

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