On Monday afternoon, Brandon Williams, the No. 74 ranked player by 247Sports in the class of 2023, announced at Middle Village (NY) Christ the King that he’ll be heading all the way across the country to play his college basketball for Mick Cronin and UCLA.
A long and versatile 6-foot-7 combo forward, Williams emerged as a primary target for Cronin and the Bruins during the spring and into the summer. Now that he’s committed, what can Bruins fans expect from him? What’s his upside? How can he help right away? And how might he fit with some of the other high profile wing targets that are left on UCLA’s board in the class of 2023?
While many aspects of Williams game made him a must get for Cronin and his staff, a few things really stood out.
To start off with, Williams is the type of long and versatile forward that Cronin has long coveted. He is capable of taking bigger defenders out into perimeter space where he’s a good deep mid-range shooter and very capable of attacking off of the dribble. He’s also got some low post game which makes him a problem to defend if you want to try to slow him down with a smaller player.
He is just scratching the surface of his potential and how young he is for the class of 2023 cannot be understated. Williams is still only 16 years old and will not turn 17 until early November. He’s a full year young for the senior class and in many cases two years younger than some of the other players ranked in the class of 2023. Given the jumps he’s made physically and on the court since the turn of the calendar year, he stands to reason that he still has room to make another jump before he arrives on campus and the UCLA coaches get to work with him.
Playing in Nike’s EYBL with the PSA Cardinals, Williams put up 10.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. While he shows promise as a deep jump shooter, he probably takes a few too many three pointers at this time (just 18.6% from three in the EYBL) and his lack of strength can cause him some issues when finishing at the rim. However, the stroke looks clean and the UCLA weight room and the physical maturing he’ll be doing over the next few years will help to take care of any lack of strength.
Moving forward, Williams is a fit with big man Devin Williams, who has already committed, and he doesn’t take away any space for the Bruins remaining wing targets, Andrej Stojakovic and Cody Williams, both top 25 players in 2023. As a bit of an inside out combo forward who will do some dirty work, Williams is a potential fit next to a guy like Stojakovic, who is a deadeye shooter from deep and a skilled wing score. The other Williams, Cody, is being recruited as more of a ball hander/facilitator type in what UCLA envisions as a revamped offense with many rangy, interchangeable, versatile wing types that can play fast.
Time will tell what happens with other targets down the road, but today UCLA landed an excellent fit and player with huge upside in Brandon Williams.