The last time you saw him, Eric Williams Jr. was celebrating a high school state basketball title.
Much has changed since then. Williams, a Port Huron native, has graduated from high school and is now playing a starring role in the college ranks at Duquesne University.
Williams is the first Port Huron native in years to receive a Division 1 college basketball scholarship. If that wasn't impressive enough, he has already become one of the top freshmen players in the country.
"I think I was able to adapt so fast because my (high school) coach Tedero France got me very prepared and my body to a different level," Williams said. "Coming to college and seeing the defensive principles were easy, because I did that throughout my high school career.
"And defense is, honestly, the main thing that is important in college. That helped me out immensely."
Williams was recently named the Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Week for a league-high third time this season. Williams averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds in a pair of wins last week.
In addition, Williams is leading the conference in rebounding, even at 6-foot-5. He is also tied for fifth overall among Division 1 freshmen at 9.8 rebounds per game. He entered the week ranked second on his team in scoring at 14 points per game, second in 3-pointers made and first in dunks.
"I worked on getting my body stronger," Williams said. "It may not show, but coming in at 180 pounds and going into the season at 195 pounds really does help. And I've been in really great shape.
"It means a lot to win Rookie of the Week for the third time, but it was better to start conference play 3-0. Being picked last in the conference to being the frontrunners really shows the improvement this year. This is the best start in seven years, so it shows how defense can win us games."
While Williams continues to make strides on the court, he is also excelling in the classroom. He finished his first semester with a 3.0 grade-point average despite the rigors of being a student-athlete.
"It's definitely new, doing this traveling," Williams said with a chuckle. "I'm not really a fan of flying in planes, but I've been getting through it.
"The balance with school and work has been great so far. Having this long break off for Christmas really helped a lot to just focus on basketball. So far it's been a good balance with school and basketball. Just very long days."
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Joseph_Hayes11.