Gonzaga, which has two rising seniors in its front court in Przemek Karnowski and Kyle Wiltjer, picked up a major addition to its rotation Saturday evening.
Johnathan Williams, who played two seasons at Missouri before deciding to transfer, will join Mark Few’s program. Williams announced the decision via social media, and the Bulldogs beat out Georgetown and SMU for the 6-foot-9 forward’s commitment. He’ll have two seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2015-16 season.
“Thanks for all of the schools that recruited me & after careful consideration, I chosen to further my career at Gonzaga University,” Williams posted. “I am proud to say I’m a ZAG! God take the wheel, you’re in control!”
In 2014-15 Williams was one of the lone bright spots for a Missouri team that struggled mightily, as he accounted for 11.9 points and 7.1 rebounds in 29.4 minutes of action per game. Recently Gonzaga’s had success with front court players who’ve had to sit out a season, be it Wiltjer following his transfer from Kentucky or Kelly Olynyk’s decision to take a redshirt year in 2011-12.
Given the fact that Wiltjer and Karnowski will be moving on after the 2015-16 season, Williams will be an important piece when he becomes eligible to play in 2016-17. Also having eligibility remaining for that season are Domantas Sabonis and 7-footer Ryan Edwards. Gonzaga also has a front court commitment in the Class of 2016 in 6-foot-10 big man Zach Collins.
Johnathan Williams III is expected to announce he is transferring from Missouri, sources told NBCSports.com.
Williams was the leading scorer and rebounder for the Tigers this season, as the 6-foot-8 sophomore averaged 11.9 points and 7.1 boards.
A Memphis native, Williams was ranked No. 42 in the Class of 2013 by Rivals. He originally signed with Missouri when Frank Haith, who is now the head coach at Tulsa, was still in Columbia. Earlier this spring, assistant coach Tim Fuller, Missouri’s lead recruiter for Williams, parted ways with the program.
Missouri finished the year 9-23 in their first season under Kim Anderson. They went just 3-15 in SEC play.
As Kim Anderson begins his first season as the head coach at Missouri, the highly successful coach will have some holes to fill from a personnel standpoint. Leading scorers Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson left school to turn pro shortly after the end of the 2013-14 campaign, and in total the Tigers have to account for the loss of their top three scorers (Earnest Ross as well).
That leaves sophomore forward Johnathan Williams III as Missouri’s most productive returnee, as he started all 35 games and averaged 5.8 points and a team-best 6.5 rebounds per contest as a freshman. Missouri won’t be a guard-dominated team this season, meaning that Williams will have more opportunities to shine under the new regime.
Unfortunately for Williams (and Missouri) he’ll have to miss some time, as he suffered a slight tear in his meniscus during a workout according to Steve Walentik of the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Of note is the fact that Williams expects to be ready for Missouri’s exhibition opener on October 29 against William Jewell College. The front court is where Missouri returns the majority of its experience from last season, with fellow starter Ryan Rosburg (4.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and senior Keanau Post (8.1 mpg) joining Williams. Missouri also added freshmen Jakeenan Gant and D’Angelo Allen, which will help with regards to both depth and talent in the front court.
The backcourt will be young, and the loss of Cameron Biedscheid won’t help matters, but that doesn’t mean Missouri is lacking talent on the perimeter. Hawaii graduate transfer Keith Shamburger gives Missouri an experienced option at the point, and freshmen such as Montaque Gill-Caesar and Namon Wright will compete for time as well. Sophomore Wes Clark and Deuce Bello, who sat out last season after transferring in from Baylor, will also factor into the rotation in 2014-15.