With the Oregon basketball season now over and the Ducks having moved towards gearing up for the 2020-21 basketball season, we are taking a look at the new pieces coming into the program and how they'll impact the Ducks on the court.
For today we are looking at junior forward Eric Williams Jr.
A big reason why I am so high on Oregon being the Pac-12's best team next season in men's basketball is because of who they had sitting on the bench redshirting. I'm aware the Payton Pritchard is gone, and the Pac-12 Player of the Year will be missed. I am aware that seniors Anthony Mathis and Shakur Juiston are also gone, and they'll be missed just as much. Duquesne transfer Eric Williams is a big reason for my belief in Oregon repeating as Pac-12 Champions. The 6-foot-6 junior was one of the very best transfer prospects available this time last spring and the Ducks were able to land his commitment.
I expect Williams to slide into the starting lineup next year for Oregon and become one of the better players on the roster after sitting out this past season.
Williams is an athletic wing player at 6-foot-6 that is going to remind Duck fans a lot of former transfer wings like Elgin Cook or Dwayne Benjamin, or former Pac-12 Player of the Year Dillon Brooks. He's got the length to guard multiple positions and the athletic ability for bigger forwards to struggle to guard him.
As a sophomore during the 2018-19 season at Duquesne, Williams averaged 14.2 points and shot 42.4 percent from the floor. He also averaged 7.6 rebounds per game. Only three players in the Pac-12 last season did that: Washington's Isaiah Stewart, Arizona's Zeke Nnaji, and USC's Onyeka Okongwu. All three are projected to be first-round draft picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. Just two Ducks ever did that statistical feat, and it was Luke Jackson as a senior and Bol Bol two seasons ago. Williams did this in the Atlantic 10, which is considered a mid-major conference, so you have to take that into account, but it doesn't and shouldn't make his impact on the court any more or any less impressive. He's going to be a player that will be in contention for some kind of All-Conference team in the Pac-12 next year.
Where I see Williams playing within the Oregon system is on the wing similar to how Chris Duarte played this year, or how Louis King, Brooks, Cook, and Benjamin played before that. He'll bounce inside in the post and be asked to defend post players and be a top rebounder. He'll also be asked to guard point guards at times. He's going to be a highly versatile player within Oregon's defense.
On the offensive side of the ball, Williams will instantly become one of Oregon's go-to players to score. And he can do it at all three levels. He's attempted over 250 free throws in his first two seasons of basketball and shoots 74.4 percent from the line. He's a career 36.7 percent three-point shooter, and as a sophomore, he made 61 percent of the shots he attempted inside the paint. He's an improving three-point shooter and someone who is at his best in transition. He's very skilled in attacking the rim and finishing with either dunks or getting fouled, which will translate to more free throw attempts.
I expect the Ducks to lean on Williams to be one of their best players during the 2020-21 season, and I expect he delivers with a strong junior year.