Christian Williams unlikely to redshirt, but 1-2 Hawkeyes will

Chad Leistikow

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery expects to use a redshirt year for one or maybe two of his freshmen. Don’t expect Christian Williams to wear one of them.

“I would say he’s probably not going to redshirt,” McCaffery said Wednesday.

Williams, a 6-foot-6, 188-pound guard from Decatur, Ill., didn’t get an Iowa scholarship offer until March and quickly accepted to round out a six-player class that includes five freshmen and junior-college transfer Dale Jones. Now he’ll likely be a part of the plans for the 2015-16 Hawkeyes.

“I came in with no intention to redshirt,” Williams said.

He had a conversation with McCaffery earlier this year about whether to sit out a year. Both were on the same page, that he should get some experience now with Iowa’s only two other true point guards, Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons, being seniors.

Gesell said Williams reminds him of Devyn Marble, who led the Hawkeyes to the 2014 NCAA Tournament as a 6-6 point guard.

“I don’t think Christian plays like a freshman,” Gesell said. “He has a lot of potential. Every day in practice I’m going against him, I’m looking to pressure him and get him ready and give him a feel of what a Big Ten game is like.”

McCaffery played Williams for nine minutes in Iowa’s exhibition opener last week vs. Sioux Falls, more than sophomore Dom Uhl (eight) or freshmen Isaiah Moss (five) and Brandon Hutton (two).

McCaffery said he didn’t want to pigeon-hole Williams as just a point guard, even though that’ll be a key 2016-17 need.

“He’s a really good wing player. That’s the tough thing with him, because we are working him in at the point and we do need him to play point moving forward,” McCaffery said. “But he is almost 6-7, he’s got a 6-11 wing span, he’s really good in transition, he’s a really good offensive rebounder.”

Williams scored 1,587 points in his career at St. Teresa High School, but thinks his role this year will be to “come on the court with some good minutes and provide a lot of defensive help and rebounds.”

Freshman guard Andrew Fleming, a scorer, and forward Ahmad Wagner, an inside presence, appear to be in the plans to crack McCaffery’s 10-man rotation. That would leave Hutton and/or Moss as the top redshirt candidates. Friday’s 7 p.m. exhibition vs. Augustana (S.D.) University is Iowa’s last exhibition before the Nov. 13 regular-season opener vs. Gardner-Webb.

“I think we need to make it pretty soon. And then make sure what we think as a redshirt makes sense as a redshirt is exactly what the player thinks,” McCaffery said. “Because if the player doesn’t agree, that’s a problem. So there will be discussion there in regards to why and what we think is best, and then hopefully everybody’s all in.”


Who: Iowa vs. Augustana (S.D.)

When, where: 7:05 p.m., Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City

TV: Streaming on BTN Plus (subscription required)

Tickets: $5 for adults, free for youths and UI students