Daijon Williams has been spending the past few weeks catching pickup basketball games on the legendary Ruckers Park courts in New York City. The Bronx, native and Clarksville High product has always had a flare for the dramatic on the court with a hint of New York attitude in his game.
Now Williams will take that game and keep it close to Clarksville after he signed to play basketball at Chattanooga State Community College last month.
“The coach is really who sold me on the program,” said the 5-foot-10, 180-pound point guard. “I really liked the coach. He was a former point guard himself and he knows what a point guard is supposed to do at the college level. He understands the dynamics of what a college point guard is all about.”
Chattanooga State coach Jay Price just finished his sixth season as the Tigers head man. He played college ball at Tennessee during the late 1980s and early 90s. He and Williams developed a relationship from the start of the Tigers’ recruitment of the Wildcats standout.
“I was struggling with whether to go to an NAIA school or a junior college,” Williams said. “Other than liking coach Price, I wanted the opportunity to play at a four-year college and coach Price said that he would help me get to that point. As long as I work hard enough, he said I could possibly make a Division I team.”
Lindsay Wilson showed some interest in Williams but it only took one visit and few conversations with the Tigers coaching staff for Williams to make up his mind.
“It’s also close to home and that made it more comfortable for me,” Williams added. “I think all of those factors really made my mind up for me.”
Williams follows the athletic path of former District 10 rival Telvin James. James, who starred at Northeast High, just finished his sophomore (and final) season with the Tigers as the team’s point guard. Williams will compete with a pair of point guards, in Devon Provost and Keith Rawls, for playing time but Williams said he should see some significant minutes on the court next season.
“Coach (Price) told me that those minutes are there if I do what is expected of me,” Williams said. “Basically that just means to work my butt off, so that’s what I plan on doing.”
Williams said he’ll be leaving for Chattanooga State at the end of July.
Williams started all four years for coach Ted Young’s team and advanced to the state tournament his junior and senior seasons. His last high school basketball game may have been his best as a Wildcat. He scored 34 points against one of the state’s top teams in Memphis Central in the state semifinals last March. He drained four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, alone, while scoring the team’s final 15 points. He had 19 points, total, in the final period.
Williams’ New York roots were often on display with his quickness and shooter’s mentality. He missed more than a week’s worth of games in late December after suffering a dislocated thumb and the Wildcats struggled without their floor leader. When he returned, he helped guide the Wildcats to an improbable Region 5 championship victory and an sectional win in overtime against Hunters Lane.
In the Wildcats’ opening round game against Cherokee in the state tournament, Williams struggled shooting but controlled the tempo of the game as the Wildcats grinded out a 53-47 victory. Williams had only nine points in that game. But he more than made up for it in the semifinal loss to Memphis Central.
Young tweaked Williams’ shooting mechanics before the game and it paid off as Williams engaged Central’s Andre Applewhite II in a memorable state tournament duel. Applewhite scored 29 points and had 10 rebounds as his team claimed the 68-62 win.
“Coach Young really has prepared me to know that it’s going to take something more than what I’ve gotten used to, to make it in college,” Williams said. “It’s the little things like playing more consistently and playing defense. Those are the things that help you succeed in college.”