MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Gopher forward Rodney Williams has had to challenge himself to get to his senior year. And he’s finally emerging as a go-to leader for the Gopher basketball team. It’s been a work in progress that feels like it’s finally where it should be.

He was targeted as big time at Robbinsdale Cooper High School as a high-flying high, upside kid with hops – and big expectations.

“I definitely felt it. You know, I started off pretty strong coming out. But consistency is what messed me up. I had my first bad game and then after that it was kind of downhill from there. And then last year was when I really picked it up again,” Williams said.

But last season it started to click, and kept clicking. He was playing all over the floor.

“I think I got the ball in my hands more now. Obviously, last year was a big confidence boost. And for Trevor (Mbakwe) to come back and for him to still be giving me tips and stuff like that – that definitely helps me,” he said.

He’s grown as a player and matured as a leader. Williams was named captain this season. It speaks to how far he has come – the young man who had to understand himself first before he could lead.

Gopher’s guard Andre Hollins says that Williams leadership is crucial for the team.

“He’s our leader. He’s one of my good friends. He keeps us working hard on the floor. He’s very vocal this year; he’s telling us what we’re doing wrong and what we’re doing well. We feed off of him,” Hollins said.

With that responsibility comes a more responsible young man. He has seen the difficult, and made it through to the other side.

“It doesn’t really change how I’m approaching things. Ever since Trevor went down I’ve kind of, you know, the coaches told me to be more of a leader out there – with the captaincy or not. So I just go out there, try to lead by example, try to be more vocal, try to be positive,” Williams said.

Good enough that his future suggests he will get paid – someday and somewhere – to pursue his basketball dream. And smart enough to live in the present.

“I just want to stay focused on what’s going on now because we got a good thing going right now. So I want to stay in the present right now, stay with what’s going on now. The future’s going to come regardless,” he said.


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