Left: Williams hustles the ball past stunned opponents in a high school match. Courtesy of Romin Williams
Right: Then-high school senior point guard Romin Williams shoots from deep at Metairie Park Country Day School where he was a member of three state championship teams. Courtesy of Romin Williams
Ball has always been life for freshman guard Romin Williams. He first picked up a basketball at the age of five in New Orleans, La., and immediately fell in love with the sport and the competition that comes with it.
“I just like playing in big moments,” Williams said, adding, “I just get in a different zone. I have fun.”
A potential business major, Williams has already established himself as a dynamic force on the court.
In a Jan. 26 home game against the University of Chicago, the Eagles stretched a 10-game win streak to 11 with a 71-66 victory. Williams’ 31-point scoring flurry — 19 of which were scored in the second half — was critical to keeping the win streak alive. After each successful bucket, the Emory crowd fed off Williams’ contagious energy. Williams has no poker face, wearing his emotions and excitement vividly on the court.
“I love when it’s close and we need a big play,” Williams said. “That’s my favorite part of the game. It’s the transition play. Something can happen [to] make the crowd go crazy, make our team go crazy.”
Williams attributes his love for basketball to his father, even though he never played the sport.
“Ever since I started [playing basketball, my dad] would always support me,” Williams said. “He’s not the biggest guy … but he always pushed me to do certain things and always be the best that I could be. Without him, I don’t think I’d be in the position I’m in.”
Williams said he had no Division III schools on his horizon nearing the end of high school, until he met Emory’s former Associate Coach Chris McHugh, now Head Coach at Washington and Lee University (Va.), at an elite basketball camp in Columbia University (N.Y.). Williams had his sights set on Columbia, but Williams and McHugh hit it off, spawning his interest in Emory. An exchange of email correspondence ensued, ultimately leading to Williams’ recruitment.
Head Coach Jason Zimmerman saw potential in the young athlete, and Williams eventually paid a visit to the Eagles’ home the summer before senior year. A month later, he committed to Emory.
“[Williams] had a very successful high school basketball career,” Zimmerman said. “You don’t ever truly foresee what is exactly going to happen, but … we knew Romin could be a very good scorer for us right away, and we think he’s going to be a tremendous basketball player for us for four years.”
After Williams played with seniors forward Adam Gigax, guard Whit Rapp and center Christopher Avant during the recruitment process, Williams finalized his decision to commit to Emory.
“Those guys want to win and they push me every day to be the best I can be,” Williams said. “That showed me a lesson for when I’m a senior, [and] I know how to treat the freshmen.”
Now, in his first collegiate season, the freshman guard is an integral member of Emory’s men’s basketball team. In the Eagles’ most recent contest, Williams provided a much-needed offensive boost, scoring 20 points in the game against Case Western Reserve University (Ohio). The match marked Williams’ fifth time scoring 20 or more points in a game. Shooting six of 12 from the field and three of five from behind the arc, Williams solidified the slim Eagle victory, 75-72.
“[Williams’] strength right now is he’s really natural at scoring,” Zimmerman said. “He’s going to become a better leader. He’s going to see reads better on the court as he continues to play with our team, so he’ll be able to make those adjustments as he goes through his career.”
Williams has time to find his rhythm and role in his four-year stint as an Emory Eagle.
“There’ve been ups and downs, but this team is perfect,” Williams said. “I feel as though, if we keep practicing every day, we can accomplish a lot of good things.”
And good things have certainly come the Eagles’ way since Williams’ arrival. The No. 2 team in the University Athletic Association (UAA) currently celebrates a 9-2 conference ledger and boasts a strong resume for admission into this year’s NCAA tournament bracket.