The following is a guest post by the area's most recognizable sports media figure, the man I first met when he was swishing threes for Lakeside in that school's first year of existence, Ashley Brown. Find Ashley's work at WGAC 580 AM and 95.1 FM, at WGAC.com, and on Twitter.
|Don Coleman, Butler's all-time scoring leader, is scorching|
the nets as a freshman at Lawson State.
Coleman began as a reserve guard at Butler 4 years ago. He came off the bench but it was clear he was one of the top players and had a bright future. That season, Coleman averaged 7.8 points and 2.1 rebounds per contest. Solid numbers for a freshman, but I still think people were stunned by what Coleman would do in 2012-13 as a sophomore. The slender 6'0" shooting guard emerged as one of the top scorers in the state, pouring in 24 points per contest. He also improved other areas of his game averaging 5.1 rebounds and 2.7 steals. Perhaps most impressive was Coleman’s play in big games. He seemed to raise his level of play when the Bulldogs faced their toughest opponents. During a three game stretch late that season Coleman torched Laney for 37, piled up 40 points against Glenn Hills, and became a hot topic around the state when he lit up Statesboro for 49 points in the Region Title Game. Butler lost a close game to Statesboro, but Mr. Coleman had arrived.
He finished out his final two seasons averaging 24.5 and 23.3 respectively and closed out his career as Butler’s All-Time leading scorer with 2,071 career points, and appeared to be headed to play Division I Ball at Florida Atlantic University for former area great Michael Curry. However, shortly after the season ended it was clear that things were not going to work out at FAU and Coleman was going to need a year at the JUCO level to prepare for a shot at a larger program. He landed at Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama. Now, listed at a VERY generous 6'4", Coleman has wasted little time showing the 4-year programs that he can flat out play. Lawson State is a very good program. They produced five players that signed with 4-year programs a year ago and brought in four Division I transfers this season. Seven of their newcomers stood 6’6” or taller, including 6’11” Artis Cleveland. All that height and pedigree, but it is the wiry prep guard from Butler that has become the team’s leader.
After scoring just 5 points on 2 of 6 shooting in his first college game (a loss to Itawamba CC), something clicked with Coleman. He would score 17, 24, and 31 in his next three contests and post 11 consecutive games in double figures. More importantly he is leading his squad to wins. Lawson State has won 6 straight, 9 of their last 10, and stands at 10-3 on the season, and a lot of the credit goes to Coleman. He is currently 5th in the state in scoring at 17.3 points per game. But, we all knew he could score. What has been extremely impressive is Coleman’s all around play. He is 2nd in the Conference in assists at 6.4 per game and has posted 11 or more assists three times in just 12 games. He is also averaging 4.7 rebounds per game, and he matured as a shooter. In high school he had a reputation as a bit of a gunner and his shooting percentage reflected that. This season he is taking better shots and it is paying off. Coleman is shooting a respectable 45.7% from the floor and is among the conference leaders from three point land at 41.7%.
Coleman only plans to stay at Lawson State for one season and if he keeps this pace up he will have plenty of Division I programs to choose from.
|Darius Williams has always been|
a problem for opposing coaches.
While Coleman was busy torching the nets at Butler, on the other side of the county Darius Williams had opposing coaches pulling their hair out. I have to credit former Westside and Duke Star Will Avery for telling me about Williams when he was a freshman at Josey. I went to see him play that season and came away thinking one thing… Darius Williams was fearless. He was only a 9th grader on a team with established leaders, but he was not afraid to take big shots with the game on the line. Williams was very good as a freshman and sophomore, but it was during his Junior year for the Eagles where he really started turning heads. He led the State in scoring at 31.3 points per contest. Williams, a 6'0" guard, topped 40 points four times in 23 games, and scored under 22 points only three times all season. In January that season he was a National Player of the Week finalist after he followed up a 44 point game against Evans with 39 more versus Dublin to earn the Player of the Week for the Southeast Region. While his numbers were down slightly as a senior he still posted 24.4 points per game and also managed 4.9 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game. Over his final two seasons the ultra quick guard scored in double figures in 50 of 50 games and scored 1,378 points…IN TWO SEASONS. Like Coleman, he topped 2,000 points for his career with the Eagles and was ready to take his game to the next level. And, like Coleman, he would be taking the Junior College route.
Williams wound up taking his talents to South Beach. No, not with the Heat, He would suit up for Miami Dade Junior College. Miami Dade was an established JUCO Power and was coming off a 21 win season in 2014-15. However, they were bringing in 12 new players from 8 different countries this season. They did return shooting guard Marvin Jean Pierre who averaged 14 points and 6.8 rebounds last season and was the projected team leader coming into the season. As a matter of fact in two separate Pre-Season Previews of the team Darius Williams name was not even mentioned. Five other freshmen drew praise from Head Coach Stephen Cowherd, but Williams came into the season as an unknown to the folks in South Florida. I kind of laugh, thinking about their fans, looking at this 6-0 170 lb. guard out there warming up amongst the trees. They were probably thinking “Who is this guy?”, "Is he a walk-on”?
Well, trust me they know who Darius Williams is now. After a bit of a slow start, as he began the season coming off the bench, Williams is not only Miami Dade’s top scorer, he is 2nd in all of the Florida JUCO Ranks at 20.2 points per game. He is also averaging 6.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per night as well. He exploded for 39 points on 14 of 25 shooting from the floor, grabbed 10 boards, and had 3 steals on November 27th in a 103-93 win over Tallahassee C.C. Then, the very next night, Williams went for 33 points including 12 for 15 from the free throw line as Miami Dade topped Pensacola JC 77-73. Miami Dade is 8-5 on the season, and trust me if Coach Cowherd talks about the team anytime soon Darius Williams is a name that will figure prominently in that conversation.
While it may seem Coleman and Williams are laboring in obscurity at the Junior College level, rest assured they are both working on their game and could make a splash at a bigger program in the very near future.