The end of the CAA regular season means that attention is turned to the conference tournament and the post season awards. The preseason all-conference selection committee snubbed Drexel’s Rodney Williams for both their first and second teams. With the regular season now in the rear view mirror, it is time for the media and coaches to take note of what Drexel’s captain was able to do.
With the exception of UNCW’s Chris Flemmings, the other four selections for the preseason first team will most likely be left off the post season list. Thanks to an incredible performance by Northeastern’s TJ Williams, who will be a front runner for player of the year, and CJ Bryce, who received an honorable mention in the preseason list, there will most likely be three spots left up for grabs this post season. It is tough to leave guys like William & Mary’s Daniel Dixon, UNCW’s Denzel Ingram and Devontae Cakok, Hofstra’s Justin Wright-Foreman, and Charleston’s Joe Chealey out of the conversation but Rodney Williams set the bar for big men in the CAA this year.
For a many of the teams, the CAA has shifted to a 4 guard, outside shooting, slash and drive conference. For example, the only “big man” to score more points per game than Rodney during conference play was Tyler Seibring who, for the most part, is a hybrid, outside shooting 4, a very different player than guys like Rodney, Devontae Cacok and Rokas Gustys. Playing in the Drexel front court means playing next to more traditional centers like Tyashawn Myles and Austin Williams. Thus the responsibility to cover non-traditional 4’s falls on the shoulders of Rodney Williams.
On many occasions this season, Drexel fans found themselves watching Rodney standing out near the perimeter covering someone much smaller and more nimble than the 6’8 captain. Time and time again, Williams used his wingspan and deceptive lateral quickness to keep up with the guys he was asked to cover. While Rodney fouled out of 5 games this year, for the most part he kept himself out of foul trouble, a testament to his improved perimeter defending.
On the offensive side of the court, the vision that Williams has shown this season has been remarkable. Throughout most of the CAA season, Rodney saw himself constantly double teamed whenever he touched the ball. His 1.5 assists was a career high, as was his 52.8% field goal shooting. He also scored more than 20 points ten times this season, four times against conference opponents. In fact, his five best scoring performances of his career occurred this season, including a 27 point, 16 rebound game against Towson and 4 double-doubles in conference play.
Williams finished 6th in the conference in scoring in all contests and 11th during conference play. His rebounding was near the top of the conference during conference play as well. Statistics tell a lot, and to many sports information directors, coaches, and the media statistics will drive their conference team decisions. Rodney’s growth as a player and contributions on the court go far beyond the stat line and should not be overlooked. What they do not see is Williams’ ability as a leader. He was the heart and soul of his team in a tough season. He was a key part in players keeping their head up, and was a constant coach and motivator when he was on the floor, or when he was standing on the sidelines.
Ultimately, during his four years at Drexel, Rodney Williams grew both as a player and a person. He has been a leader on the court, and an example in professionalism and sportsmanship. Preseason snub aside, he’s proven his value this season and deserves a nod on the all-conference first team.