By Chuck Pleiness
@wingsfrontman on Twitter
Notre Dame Prep boys basketball coach Whitney Robinson spent an awful long time talking to New Haven's Eric Williams Jr. after the Rockets knocked off the Fighting Irish in a Class B regional championship game last week.
"I was just giving him the respect that he deserves," Robinson said. "He's the best player I've seen at the high school level since I've been coaching."
And Williams has a teammate, junior Romeo Weems, that's being heavily recruited by numerous Division I schools, including Michigan State University.
"Right now, today, he's better than Romeo," Robinson said. "No disrespect to Romeo, he's phenomenal, wonderful and a tremendous player, but right now today he's the best high school basketball player I've seen the last five years."
Williams dropped 26 points on NDP, to go along with 10 rebounds and five steals in the Rockets' 71-44 win.
"He's just so smooth," Robinson said. "But what impressed me the most was how hard he plays. Obviously, he can shoot it, he's athletic, he can dribble and he can create his own shot, but he works so hard. He's the hardest working guy out there on the floor.
"He's relentless on the offensive glass," Robinson continued. "He's running the floor harder than anybody, guarding great. He's just a great phenomenal player and that's a credit to their coach."
Williams has been on fire since dropping 50 points on Fraser in the opener of the MAC Blue/Gold Division tournament. He followed that up with a 40-point performance against Warren Woods-Tower.
"It's a great compliment, but I'm still working," Williams said of what Robinson told him.
In a triple overtime win over Flint Beecher he had 38 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists.
He's also had games of 28 points (Marysville) and 27 (Flint Northwestern) in this recent stretch.
"I still have to keep working to reach my goals," Williams said. "It's great what he told me, but I still have to work."
Williams' upward trajectory has led him to de-commit from Davis & Elkins University.
He's already been contacted by a handful of Division I schools that would love to have him dress next season for them.
"I'm on a bit of a late season run," Williams said. "I'm just scoring. I've been more focused and locked in. I don't feel different. I'm just playing."
Williams said it's not a lucky food he's been eating or anything else he's doing pre-game, but his coach, Tedaro France II, feels he knows why he's put together this kind of run over the last nine games ... a haircut.
"Since he got a haircut, about a month ago, he's been putting up these kinds of numbers," France smiled. "He had a high-type fade before. I told him to keep his haircut forever."
The haircut occurred prior to his 50-point performance against the Ramblers.
"He's a kid that works hard," said France, whose Rockets meet Detroit Osborn at 7 p.m. at Marysville in a Class A state quarterfinal on Tuesday. "He's there before and after school working hard. To see his growth it truly shows if you work hard there's nothing that you can't do. He's a gym rat.
"He's a great kid and a great talent," France continued. "And he's having a hell of a year."