Williams' talents helped keep Elgin afloat
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Elgin senior Arie Williams is the honorary captain of the 2012-13 Daily Herald Fox Valley all-area boys basketball team.
Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer
It is one thing to shoot over 50 percent from 3-point range for an entire season, a noteworthy accomplishment at any level of organized basketball.
It's another thing to shoot with such accuracy when every person in the gym — from the opposing coach to the mom working the concession stand — knows exactly which player is going to shoot.
That, in a nutshell, describes the recently completed season of Elgin senior point guard Arie Williams, a 5-foot-8 dynamo named the honorary captain of the 2012-13 Daily Herald Fox Valley boys basketball all-area team.
Williams was elevated to the varsity as a 4-foot-11 freshman midway through the 2009-10 season. He became a starter as a sophomore and developed into a key component of Elgin teams that won consecutive conference and regional championships.
However, Williams faced a different team dynamic as a senior. Not only was he Elgin's lone returning starter, he was the only Maroon other than center Eric Sedlack ever to log meaningful minutes in a varsity game.
Complicating matters further, three players who emerged in summer-league play as scorers who could potentially take the load off Williams were ruled academically ineligible before the season began.
"All the sudden we went from nine deep to six deep, so more was thrust on Arie's shoulders as far as handling the ball and scoring," Elgin coach Mike Sitter said.
Williams was prepared for the season-long challenge, thanks to hundreds of hours spent in the weight room adding muscle to his once-wiry frame. The 1,000 shots he took six mornings a week at the Centre of Elgin didn't hurt either.
The results were evident. The 17-year old son of LA and Edie Williams led the Fox Valley area with 622 points in 28 games (22.2 avg), a 43-percent increase from the 355 points he contributed in 28 games as a junior. He also led the Maroons in assists (121) and steals (69), fought his way past bigger bodies to grab 97 rebounds (3.5 avg) and was considered Elgin's best defensive player.
Not only did Williams eclipse 1,000 points midway through the season, he completed his career as the fourth-leading scorer in Elgin's 114-year history with 1,321 points. He trails only Sean Harrington (2,119), older brother Armani Williams (1,744) and 1987 graduate Mark Baugh (1,536).
Williams attempted more than double the shots of any teammate this season, but he was remarkably accurate. He sank 55.6 percent of his 2-point attempts (99 of 178), shot 50.5 percent from 3-point range (99 of 196) and 74.3 percent from the free-throw line (127 of 171).
He was named player of the year in the Upstate Eight River by league coaches for willing the Maroons to a 14-14 record.
"People thought Elgin was going to fall off the face of the earth basketball-wise this year, but I told people Arie might be the best player in our league," Larkin coach Deryn Carter said. "He's a competitor, he handles the ball real well, he plays with great tempo and pace and the way he shoots it is as good as anybody around."
Williams enjoyed several big games: a career-best 39-point outburst in a double-overtime loss at Larkin, a 35-point game at St. Charles East, a tilt against Streamwood in which he scored 20 points in a quarter. He scored 16 points in the final 10 minutes of a 60-55 road victory against three-time FVC Valley champion Huntley on Dec. 22.
"I was extremely impressed with what he was able to do when everybody knew he was the only guy Elgin had," Huntley coach Marty Manning said. "I think everyone thought Elgin would have a worse record than what they did. Ninety percent of that goes to him."
Williams said his most memorable moments of the season came during the Elgin Holiday Tournament. First, he sank a desperation buzzer beater from midcourt to lift the Maroons past Francis Parker 55-54 in the tournament opener.
He struck again the following day against Dundee-Crown when he scored the last 9 points of the game, capped by a difficult, game-winning baseline fadeaway with 15 seconds left.
"I just think he's the best player in the area," D-C coach Lance Huber said. " If you take him off Elgin, no disrespect to their team, but could they have won more than 5 games? He was that good."
Then there's the lingering college question. Williams, who since elementary school has played against the top competition in the state and the nation as a member of the Illinois Wolves AAU team and, more recently, the Chicago Diablos, believes he can play Division-I college basketball. Thus far he has one Division-II offer on the table with more visits scheduled.
This week he was contacted by Northern Illinois and Long Beach State. An official visit to NIU is planned for later this month.
"If he can play in college like he played this year, I really believe he can play at a D-I level," Sitter said. "The sky is the limit."
Though Williams dreams of playing big-time college basketball, the NCAA academic qualifier is more concerned with finding the right situation.
"It would have to be a good fit, not just forced," Williams said. "I want to go somewhere that wants me, that wants to play me and help me develop. That's where I want to end up."
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