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Former Bishop Loughlin and Rutgers standout Mike Williams is preparing for the next chapter in his story

By Tom Ballato

After playing the last year and a half in the United Kingdom’s NBL Division 1, Mike Williams is ready to take his game to another level. 

The 6-foot-2 shooting guard from Brooklyn, New York, made his first basket on a ten-foot rim at the age of two and has been playing basketball ever since. He grew up playing AAU for Riverside Church until seventh grade before taking his talents to The City Basketball, where he played alongside Donovan Mitchell and Eric Paschall.

He attended high school at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn. “I was going to go to Rice High School, but I took a school visit to (Bishop) Loughlin. I liked the feel of the school, it’s not a far commute, and Rice ended up getting shut down,” Williams said about his decision to attend Bishop Loughlin. 

At Bishop Loughlin, Williams was part of the freshman class that included Khadeen Carrington, who went on to play at Seton Hall. The pair of guards went on to have stellar careers in high school. Williams scored over 1,000 points and was named two-time New York Daily News First Team All-City and First Team All-CHSAA’ AA’ First Team. 

One of his fondest memories from high school was when Kobe Bryant came to the school and gave gear to the team. Williams claimed he visited the high school because Lebron James sponsored rival Christ the King. 

Williams was ranked the 40th shooting guard nationally and fielded scholarship offers St. John’s, Temple, Rhode Island, Iowa, Dayton, George Washington, Rutgers, Creighton, and Virginia. He chose Rutgers because of coach Eddie Jordan, and it wasn’t too far from home. “At the time, the head coach was Eddie Jordan, and his resume speaks for itself. He played in the NBA and coached in the NBA. So it made sense to go there and improve my game,” Williams said. 

Midway through his collegiate career, Rutgers fired Eddie Jordan. Players transferred out of the program, but Williams stayed. He knew coach Steve Pikiell’s resume and saw what he did at Stony Brook, leading them to an NCAA Tournament. Pikiell was honest, and Williams thought he was an excellent fit for his system. 

Rutgers had a culture change that Williams experienced. “There was a sense of urgency and fire. With Pikiell and his staff, there was more teaching and learned where you are as a player. We talked a lot about where we needed to improve. There was a fire that he (Pikiell) had, and he carried it on to us too,” Williams said about the change that took place at Rutgers. 

Off the court, Williams enjoyed the diversity at Rutgers and that there was always something to do and learn. He attended African galas, Latino fairs and enjoyed the cultural diversity. 

Williams left his mark with the program but felt like he underachieved at Rutgers because he knows what he is capable of now that he’s a professional. Mike Williams was the heart and soul of Rutgers basketball. He was a great worker, a terrific defender, and put the ball in the basket. 

After graduating, he signed with an agent who was not certified. Williams didn’t know at the time when he signed. However, he did drills and played with the New York Knicks. Playing with the Knicks, Williams felt like he belonged. 

The guard spent a year not playing basketball after going undrafted. After a strong showing at a Eurobasket event in Las Vegas, Williams signed with the Hemel Storm of the NBL Division 1, the second division in the United Kingdom. 

Mike Williams with the Hemel Storm.

In his first professional season, Williams established himself as one of the best scorers in the NBL, averaging 23.3 points per game while shooting 41.7% from three. He’s always could put the ball in the basket, but he became a leader for the Storm. The team was going to make the playoffs, but Covid-19 shut down the season, ending his rookie campaign. 

The Hemel Storm were excited to re-sign Williams for the 2020-2021 season. The production on the court was there again, and the Storm made it to the championship and lost to a team that Williams believes could beat teams in the top division. Teams in the British Basketball League, the highest level in Britain, did not call Williams up, but he wasn’t concerned with getting called up. Instead, he was focused on finishing his season and returning home because Covid-19 took a toll on him overseas, and he was away from his family for an extended period. 

The Brooklyn native is comfortable with the ball in his hands and putting the ball on the floor, which he wasn’t as confident in doing at Rutgers. Williams felt like he took the backseat in college but now has a new mentality as a professional. He’s learned that nobody will feel sorry for you, and if you don’t perform, you get sent home. 

Williams has been working out multiple times a day, preparing for his next opportunity. He suited up in The Basketball Tournament for Playing for Jimmy V and appeared in two games. 

The opportunity to head back to the United Kingdom is there, but the tireless competitor wants to weigh his options and see what offers he can get from European leagues. At 24 years old, Williams appreciates every opportunity he’s been given and wants to continue writing his own story. 

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