According to his Twitter account, rising junior guard DJ Williams will be leaving the Illinois Fighting Illini basketball program. He does so after a mixed two seasons with the Illini where he only saw limited playing time.
BREAKING: Illini announce DJ Williams will transfer. 4 scholarships open— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) May 8, 2017
As a recruit, Williams arrived in Champaign with plenty of hype. Williams was rated as a four-star prospect by 247Sports and the No. 4 player in the state of Illinois. He was one part of a stellar five-part 2015 recruiting class for Illinois that many predicted to be the one to save John Groce’s tenure with the program.
But, obviously, that would not be the case.
During his two seasons with the program, Williams played in a total of 37 games for the Illini over the course of two seasons. Despite seeing his minutes increase during the 2015-’16 season, he struggled to see significant minutes last season, only playing more than 10 minutes in a single Big Ten game.
Unfortunately, even if Williams struggled to see major minutes for Illinois, his departure is still a significant one for the Illini. That’s because the team already had three open scholarships for next season. Even if Williams wasn’t a great player, he would probably have seen some minutes.
Now, with Williams gone, the program has four scholarships to fill by next fall. Even for a quality recruiter like Brad Underwood, that’s going to be a major challenge. And, even if Underwood can find enough quality options to fill those spots, Illinois is going to be very young next season. Simply put, Underwood will have his work cut out.
Of course, regardless of what Williams’ departure means for Illinois going forward, it’s disappointing to see a player with such promise depart after such an underwhelming two seasons in Champaign. Fans will now have to wait and see where he lands and who Underwood can land to replace his lost contributions.