University of Missouri

Freshman Johnathan Williams III off to fast start for Missouri

Missouri expects big things from its young big man, Johnathan Williams III, and he has been delivering in a big way of late.

Williams, a 6-foot-9 freshman forward, followed a 17-rebound performance Saturday against Gardner-Webb with his first career double-double, 10 points and 10 rebounds Monday against IUPUI.

“This is his first, but it won’t be his last double-double,” said interim coach Tim Fuller, who guided the Tigers to a 5-0 record during Frank Haith’s suspension. Haith will return to the bench tonight when the Tigers play Northwestern in the Las Vegas Invitational.

Williams, who was a consensus top-50 recruit coming out of Southwind High School in Memphis, wasn’t sure how quickly he would adjust to the college game.

The competition will get stiffer in the coming weeks, but Williams is thrilled to be off to a fast start, averaging 7.4 points and a team-high 9.2 rebounds per game.

“I put it all in God’s hands and continue to work hard each and every day,” Williams said. “I’m just playing hard and having fun, and good things are happening.”

Asked if he was having a better season than he expected, Williams said, “Yes, sir, but I need to continue to work on my free throws. That’s one area I’m struggling right now, but, as I continue to work on that, my game will become complete.”

While Williams (known in the program as J3) might have been unsure how he’d perform, he hasn’t been a revelation to Missouri’s staff.

“What I’ve seen from J3 these five games is what he does every day in practice,” Fuller said. “He’s our most improved player. From the day he stepped on campus, he’s continued to get better. What he does in the game is just a mirror image of what he does in practice.”