Fall 2020 Scouting Report
Vince Williams thrives in chaos. In every game, the Ohio native seems to bring an obsession with absolutely overwhelming the opposing team using his energy and activity. Standing at 6’6” with a strong build and clear room to naturally play even bigger, Vince Williams has the physical tools to apply the overwhelming chaos he desires. Despite his relatively low minute total in his two seasons at Virginia Commonwealth University so far, the former national 4-star high school prospect has drummed up intrigue due to the possibilities of what can be accomplished with his athleticism and mental approach. There has never been a time where strong, physical, high-motor forwards have been more desired in the pro leagues than now. If Williams can prove that his other skills are reliable in a higher level offense, he will be the exact type of player the pros will clamor for.
Motor and Hustle
It must bear repeating that players with Vince Williams’ approach to basketball do not come around that often. Williams refuses to let plays end without knowing he has given his all on the court. The word “havoc” has become synonymous with VCU for a decade-plus at this point and Williams embodies that ethos, perhaps the most of any VCU player of the decade, due to his calculated hustle. He hustles with purpose and intent instead of wasting his energy in a meaningless fashion. To be a top 10 Atlantic-10 all-time leader in steal percentage as Williams is, initiative also has to be met with anticipation and intelligence. Not only does he specialize in extra-effort plays and instinctual reading of offensive actions, but he also provides the physicality necessary to put his defensive assignments in uncompromising positions. Williams’ man can rest assured every post seal attempted will be pushed back against or fronted aggressively, every rebound attempt will be contested heavily or boxed out, and every screen navigation will come with hard bumping.
He also applies that motor offensively with a quick trigger for pushing the ball in transition – searching out frequently for teammates to screen for, lurking around for cutting chances toward the rim, crashing the offensive glass opportunistically, and aggressively attacking driving lanes against a bent defense or mismatch to bully toward the rim. Williams understands that holding the ball without making a move is a great way to dry up the offense and reacts decisively to keep the pressure on defenses, a big reason for his stellar foul drawing rate in his VCU career so far. Williams is not an explosive athlete and does not have shiftiness off the dribble, but simply forcing the defense to react to his strength and size plowing downhill is often good enough for an encouraging chance for the offense.
The instincts of Williams lend themselves naturally to being a promising passer in transition and the halfcourt as well. Williams loves to swing the ball for an extra pass, perhaps to a fault. Often, it seems like he gets more joy out of getting an assist than a bucket of his own. Whenever a driving lane closes on a slashing Williams due to help rotations, he never has tunnel vision towards the rim.
The elephant in Vince Williams’s offensive skill set is the lack of positioning himself as a shooting threat. In terms of both percentages (21.8% for NCAA career three-point shooting mark) and volume (2.6 three-point attempts per 40 minutes for NCAA career), opposing teams are quite willing to leave him open on the perimeter. The hope of a comfortable midrange jumper to steadily grow into other areas over time has also not been present.
Williams shoots with a lack of guide hand on the ball for most of the shot release. This release is paired with a lack of lower body balance during the rise of the jumpshot (often creating too much forward lean) that Vince is forced to correct with his core strength mid shot.
The trouble with Williams’ struggles as a shooter in this regard is Vince turning down open shooting looks not only slogs the offense in ways his otherwise decisive play usually wouldn’t, but the lack of shooting confidence also affects how mistake-prone his other offensive options become. Williams has had a negative assist to turnover ratio and a turnover rate over 20% for his college career, not because his awareness is lacking, but because his eagerness to make a good play to compensate for his lack of shooting will frequently lead to rushed and inaccurate decisions. A swing pass is liable to get hurried to still take advantage of the defense rotating and the pass would end up inaccurate or anticipated by a help defender. A quick drive to try to pressure the defense playing off Williams would lead to a charge as the defense is too set inside the paint. There is a cascading effect from Williams’ lack of shooting that can be greatly improved on if he was more assertive as a shooter, even if the accuracy takes longer to come around.
Williams has a unique wiring for the energy power forward role. There are few if any players in the country who have Vince’s hustle, intensity, anticipation, and physicality to snuff out as many opposing offensive actions almost on his own and to widen as many of his team’s scoring chances without scoring himself. The mentality and the experience in VCU’s defensive system should make Williams an encouraging fit in any defensive scheme – switch, drop, zone, hard hedge, etc, even without overwhelming lateral quickness. However, maximizing scoring chances fully will require Williams to also become a danger as a halfcourt scorer, particularly as a shooter. Players like Trevor Ariza and Jerami Grant had been in similar situations as prospects and managed to improve their shooting accuracy and aggressiveness to the point of long NBA careers. If Williams can follow in those footsteps, there is a good chance of him following a similar career trajectory.