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Mr. Basketball Finalist: Curtis Williams

Brother Rice Mr. Basketball finalist Curtis Williams.

Curtis Williams has been a known basketball prospect since middle school. And he’s lived up to the expectations for years. The leading scorer for Catholic League champion Brother Rice, he’s the only Mr. Basketball finalist to have signed with a high major program, going to Louisville. Here’s a look back at Williams from the spring of 8th grade through the winter of his senior year.

Brother Rice Statement Road Win, Jan. 23: The Louisville signee was the game’s high scorer with 23 points, but just as important was his defense on Cubs star guard Sonny Wilson. Wilson’s bag is deeper than most, but Williams has an advantage in that they’ve been AAU teammates forever and he’s seen it all. His size size alone made it hard for Wilson to get the ball, or get clean looks when he did. In the first half when Brother Rice was making a run and U-D needed buckets Wilson missed three successive layups, the last missing the rim entirely as he was dwarfed by Williams, who ended up with the ball off the glass. The real value wasn’t so much stoning Sonny one-on-one, as he’s too good for that and did cobble together numbers in the second half, but in forcing other players to handle the ball and make decisions and shots. That approach worked. Offensively, as usual Williams looked incredible when keeping it one-or-fewer dribbles, efficient and clean in his footwork.

Northview Unbeaten Thanks to OT, Feb. 22: He has the next-play mentality shooters need, on display in the second half when Williams airballed a 3, then nailed one from behind the arc on his next touch. He hit a 3 to give Brother Rice its first lead of the game with 5:40 left in the fourth. Had a high-major series where he blocked a shot, then swooped for a layup on the other end. Finished with 17 points.

Class of 23 Standouts from BCAM/GVSU, June 21:  Classic size and form as a corner jumpshooter, could put him into the very best college leagues any time in the last 50 years and that kind of shot and style will fit in somewhere. Top 50 prospect nationally who if he wants to contend for All-American status as an upperclassman will need some wiggle off the bounce.

Rice not your little Brother, March 21: He’s already being recruited at the highest level of college ball, with offers from Alabama and Maryland, and has a true jumpshot that translates to that level. The focus of DLS’s defensive attention, Williams scored nine on three three-pointers … a testament to Brother Rice’s depth to win its season top scorer under 10, and to Williams’ all-around game and mentality that he didn’t force shots, kept teammates involved and was a force on the defensive end. On D he sits down and plays with consistent high hands on closeouts. In one second-half series in the Catholic League semifinal, Williams got back to challenge a fastbreak layup and then recover to alter the put-back attempt, also a miss.

Minor Threat, Major Talent, July 20: He came in as Bank Hoops’ No. 1 ranked 2023 prospect and did nothing to dissuade that opinion here, if anything strengthened it. Tough defender for his age who could be able to check three positions at the highest level of college ball (he already has an offer from Maryland). Easy to coach. Good not great athlete, but is fundamental, cares about the “boring” things and competes. Just a basketball player who can bully inside or step out and shoot it like a guard.

Playing Up, Showing Out at Storm Classic, April 19: The Family had some man-sized 8th-graders playing up in 15U, where they won it all, with guys like Williams from Detroit, 6-5 Tim Jordan from Saginaw and 6-6 Xavier Thomas from West Bloomfield. His father, of the same name, was a very good player around the turn of the century for Detroit Central. The younger Williams has similar perimeter skills, but also moves well enough to defend out there, too.

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