Devin Williams will be X-factor for WVU basketball

Devin Williams made an impact right away when he joined the WVU basketball team in the 2013-14 season.

He’s had a breakout season for the Mountaineers in 2015-16, leading them to a 26-8 record, the Big 12 championship game and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Williams scored 31 of his team’s 71 points in the Big 12 title game against Kansas, but fell short of the title by 10 points. Without Williams’ efforts, West Virginia would have been left in the dust in the second half.

After leading by one point at halftime, the Mountaineers quickly found themselves trailing by double digits as the Jayhawks got hot from behind-the-arc. But Williams scratched and clawed his way, grabbing rebounds, drawing fouls and scoring points.

Thanks to Williams, the WVU basketball cut the deficit to just four points with six points left in the second half. Unfortunately, it was too little too late for the Mountaineers.

Still, Williams did not go unnoticed.

“That’s the best he’s finished all year,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins.

Now, the finishing touches by Williams will carry the Mountaineers deep into the NCAA Tournament.

Williams can dominate Stephen F. Austin inside. His teammates will just have to get him the ball. 

Stephen F. Austin is one of the best passing teams in the country. The WVU basketball team is not.

“The games when we’ve really concentrated and taken good care of the ball we’ve played pretty well,” Huggins said.

If Williams isn’t on the receiving end of passes, he’ll be cleaning up the glass.

Williams is the team’s leading rebounder with 9.3 per game. He has 315 total defensive boards and 199 offensive boards. He has also improved as a free throw shooter. He was 13 of 15 from the line in the Big 12 title game and is now 150 of 217 on the year, a 69-percent average.

That’s key for Williams and the Mountaineers. Williams can pick up plenty of and-1 opportunities. He’ll need to convert those chances to improve West Virginia’s chances of winning.

Point is, Williams is playing his best basketball of the year right now, and so are the Mountaineers.

The fight shown by this team against Kansas and the Jayhawks-favored crowd in Kansas City for the championship game proved that the Mountaineers can compete in any situation.