The Rutgers Scarlet Knights enter its final non-conference game of the season 5-7, and have been carried by a plethora of young, inexperienced talent.
Freshman point guard Corey Sanders has been one of the brightest spots on the team. The highly-touted guard began his collegiate campaign by serving a one-game suspension due to playing in a non-sanctioned event last summer, but upon his arrival on the court, Sanders has done nothing short of meeting expectations.
Junior College transfer Deshawn Freeman has worked himself into the starting lineup due to his energy and scoring ability inside. Before going down to a sore knee, Freeman was averaging 13.1 points, which ranks second on the team even after missing the last five games.
There is another bright spot on this roster that hasn't garnered enough attention for his impressive season thus far. Sophomore shooting guard Mike Williams has not only proved himself as a capable scoring option, but has efficiently doubled two key stats from a season ago.
Williams has been a key cog in the starting lineup, and when the Scarlet Knights struggle to generate points consistently, the 6-2 combo guard often finds himself in the midst of digging the Scarlet Knights out of a scoring slump. Williams averages 12.2 points per game, which marks for the third best average on the team. The impressive facet of Williams' game is his ability to improve from his freshman season to his current sophomore year. The Brooklyn native averaged a mere 6.3 points per game last season, and has shown an improvement in field goal, three-point and free throw percentages.
At 6-2, Williams has done a solid job at helping a depleted front line by crashing the boards. The injuries to Freeman and Redshirt Freshman Ibrahima Diallo have really sparked Williams to a solid 4.8 rebounds per game for a shooting guard. Not only has Williams doubled up on his scoring output, but has improved his rebounding in the same fashion - Williams averaged 2.2 rebounds per game a season ago.
With just one game separating the Scarlet Knights from Big Ten play, the sophomore guard has played a vital role as a starter, which has led for him to a minutes increase from his freshman campaign. A season ago, Williams averaged 22.2 minutes per game and was mildly efficient as a true freshman. Going into Monday's tilt with Umass Lowell, Williams is averaging 28.1 minutes per game. The mark of true efficiency and making minutes count is the form of improving the key stats alluded to earlier in only six more minutes per game from last season.
Perhaps the most telling stat of the development of Mike Williams his is scoring improvement from a year ago - Williams tallied six double-digit scoring games in 2014-15, and has notched seven double-digit scoring outputs through the first 12 games of the 2015-16 season. Corey Sanders and Deshawn Freeman have rightfully earned the attention for their accolades this season, but Mike Williams deserves similar regards to his impressive improvement from a season ago.