Tavares Oliver Jr. has a role model in Eric Williams Jr.
As basketball blueprints go, Williams’ is a stellar one to follow.
Williams was not a widely sought recruit last basketball season while he led New Haven on a magical journey.
After he helped the Rockets win the state Class B championship, Williams got an 11th-hour offer from Duquesne, and he has made the most of that opportunity with nine double-doubles in 21 games as a freshman for the Pittsburgh school.
“I try to do everything he did,” Oliver said. “He’s a good role model for me.”
Like Williams a year ago, Oliver is a senior guard at New Haven who’s trying to impress Division I recruiters.
He scored 29 points Thursday as the Rockets extended their county-record winning streak to 38 games with an 83-41 victory over Fitzgerald.
“I was just trying to be aggressive,” said Oliver, who also had five assists. “I wanted to knock down my shots and get my teammates involved.”
Oliver has consistently filled his stat line this season.
He scores. He runs the point. He makes steals and is on the front line for a defense that averages a MAC-low 45 points per game, one whose key players say is capable of improving.
“Overall, we’re playing hard and playing tough,” Oliver said, “but I feel like we can be a better defensive team.”
Oliver, who canned six 3-pointers against Fitzgerald, scores in a variety of ways. He shoots. He slashes. He drives.
“He’s a great shooter, one of the best shooters in the state of Michigan,” teammate Romeo Weems said. “He’s been getting tougher and tougher every year.”
New Haven lost to graduation A.J. Crawford III, the lead guard on the championship team.
Crawford’s role has been filled by multiple players, including Oliver, guard Ronald Jeffery II and Weems, a 6-foot-7 wing.
“I worked hard on my game all summer,” Oliver said. “I want to get some Division I offers.”
New Haven is at Cousino on Tuesday and at Eastpointe on Friday. A 2-0 week would push the Rockets’ winning streak to 40.