In the most tumultuous and fluid transfer offseason in the history of College Basketball, Travis Ford and SLU have acted fast and brought in a player before the season has technically ended.
Rashad Williams has announced his intentions to join the Saint Louis University Billikens via social media.
Williams is transferring from Oakland University in Michigan, where he started 40 of the 43 games, he played for the Grizzlies over the last two seasons. This will have been his second transfer after starting his career at Cleveland State.
The Junior guard, and once Michigan Mr. Basketball candidate, would have two seasons of eligibility to use should he opt to use them but is entering his senior season. So, this very well could be a grad transfer situation.
Standing at 6’2, Williams is a true Shooting Guard and an instant improvement to SLU’s overall shooting ability. But he does provide a physicality that will fit well with Travis Ford’s defensive style.
While at Oakland, Williams has become one of the nation’s top three-point shooters. He led all of Division One basketball in three-point shot attempts with 277 attempts and was fifth in makes with 94, making him a 34% shooter from deep on quite literally the highest possible volume in the sport. Three-Quarters of his shots came from deep. This past season he was twice awarded the Horizon League player of the week based on his offensive outputs.
Williams can take and make pretty much any type of shot he wants. He has shown supreme range from all over the floor and has utilized the green light granted to him in every way. He is more than comfortable taking shots while defended or in the open and has shown a really impressive handle in creating open looks off of the dribble.
Adding Rashad Williams injects an instant offensive component to the roster. Last season he was dominant against Power 5 conference teams, scoring 36 and 32 in back-to-back appearances against Michigan State and Oklahoma State, respectively. Where he made a combined 18 threes in those two games. He scored more than 20 eight times in the 2020-21 season and was one of the more dangerous scorers in the Horizon League.
His quick release on three’s makes him a dream matchup for a player like Yuri Collins to pair within the backcourt. Not needing the ball in his hands to create but showing an aptitude for creativity when called upon pairs well with Yuri’s pass-first sensibilities.
As a defensive player, Williams struggled while playing zone defenses. Unfortunately, Oakland played a ton of zone defenses in the 2020-21 season. However, in earlier college seasons where he was given more opportunities to play straight-up man-to-man, he fared far better. Using his quickness and reach to disrupt passing lanes and keep guys covered on the perimeter. It’s hard to know exactly which version is the more honest interpretation of the
It will be very interesting to see how Williams meshes into the system and current roster that Saint Louis has looking forward to next season. Quite simply, he will not be afforded the same volume of shooting that he had the luxury of having at Oakland. On four separate occasions, Williams had games where he would have set the SLU record for attempted threes in a game, taking 20 three-point attempts once and 17 three other times, which would have surpassed the 16 attempts SLU record. Williams had a complete green light to take whichever shoot he liked, no matter the situation. To his credit, he was a good shooter, given his usage. But on a team with guys like Javonte Perkins, Yuri Collins, and Gibson Jimerson, his role and volume of attempts will have to change.
Adding a player like Williams helps add to a team that is losing two major contributors on offense in various ways. With only Javonte Perkins returning as a significant consistent scorer, Williams is a piece who can quickly contribute offense in a system or independently. He is also a capable ball-handler who can add to a backcourt now missing one of its focal points in Jordan Goodwin, who has left Yuri Collins as the only definitive player in that role.
In all, Travis Ford is adding a player in tune with his vision and his needs. Rashad has shown an aptitude for gritty and self-sacrificing play– things like jumping on loose balls and hustling in tough minutes– but also adds to plenty of more tangible basketball needs his team has. It seems like he will play a role similar to the one Tay Weaver played two seasons ago—a bench guard who specialized in deep shooting–but will have more opportunity to play himself into a more prominent role. Especially considering his larger frame.
With Demarius Jacobs opting to transfer earlier in the week, SLU still has three scholarships to offer. Rashad Williams has seemingly come out of nowhere, so it is hard to know where the next name will come.
SLU will likely use one of their scholarships to continue to search for more shooting and more size. Valpo transfer Donovan Clay has become a more familiar name I’ve heard as a target; he would add both size and shooting to the team, as well as being from the greater St Louis area, hailing from Alton, Illinois.
Local Billikens-focused podcast Midtown Madness has put together an excellent list of players SLU has been interested in or offered to in the past that are currently in the Transfer Portal.