When Emmitt Williams withdrew from Lehigh in October and enrolled at IMG Academy, he was determined to develop into one of the best high school basketball players in the nation.
Nine months later, the Fort Myers native and rising junior is well on his way toward accomplishing that mission.
The 6-foot-8, 200-pound power forward, a five-star recruit according to ESPN, took important steps in crafting his game over his sophomore season. At IMG Academy, where he was used as a power forward, Williams averaged 16.4 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.9 blocks in 27 games.
“He impacted the game in a tremendous way,” IMG Academy boys varsity coach Vince Walden said. “Good players inflict their will on the game with their physicality. I think he was able to inflict his game on opponent’s night in and night out.”
In the weeks after his season ended for the Ascenders, Williams, 17, was invited to the Pangos All-American Camp in California in May, and was invited to participate in the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Virginia in June.
“He is a good basket protector and can change shots,” Walden said. “He intimidated some guys this year going to the basket. And he also passed it extremely well. He drew a lot of attention, and I think his teammates benefited from his ability to pass the ball.”
ESPN ranks Williams the 14th best prospect in the Class of 2018 in its ESPN 60. 247 Sports, meanwhile, has Williams ranked as a four-star prospect and the 26th best prospect nationally in his class. He’s ranked fourth in the state of Florida.
Williams currently has scholarship offers from LSU, Louisville, Penn State, Florida and Vanderbilt. He reportedly has offers from the University of Southern California and TCU as well.
“The most important thing is that he’s a hard worker,” Walden said. “I think sometimes players need a sense of reward and a lot of times they can’t see it. For him, his success reminds him that hard work is important. People are recognizing what he’s been able to do. I think that’s going to keep moving him forward.”
Over the 2015-16 season, Williams made strides not only under the basket, where he is considered an elite defender and post scorer, but as a creative player from just inside the 3-point line. Williams developed a 15-foot jump shot, and also became a solid driver with the ball in his hands.
His performances suggest his improvement in those areas.
He shot 58 percent from the field, was 8 of 26 from 3-point range and added 50 assists to go along with 28 steals.
“He grew with his face up game,” Walden said. “That was a focus of ours. He got better at it. And I think once or twice a game, he went coast-to-coast with the ball. We encouraged him to make those plays.”
In January, he blocked 10 shots in a game against Barron Collier, against which he recorded a triple-double, and also set a single-game record for blocks.
A month later, in a game against Pinellas Park, Williams set a single-game record at IMG Academy with 23 rebounds. He finished with 442 points on the season, a new program varsity record.
Over the AAU season, Williams is a member of the Orlando-based Each 1 Teach 1 U17 EYBL roster, which places together some of the best prospects in the nation. He teams with Tampa Catholic’s Kevin Knox, considered one of the best incoming seniors in the nation.
In 16 games, Williams averaged 10.4 points on 64 percent shooting and 6.7 rebounds in 15 minutes.