DuBois Williams sat at the end of the bench at Wells Fargo Arena on the campus of Arizona State. A sprained ankle sidelined him, and all he could do was watch as the Sun Devils battled Cal State San Bernardino, a Division II school with a solid basketball tradition.
Four years later, the most significant playing time of his career is coming at that school. There were two other stops in-between but Williams has found a home and has emerged as the jack-of-all-trades for the Coyotes (9-7, 7-3), who will host CCAA leader Cal State Dominguez Hills (14-3, 8-2) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Coussoulis Arena.
It will be the start of a big weekend for the Coyotes, who host Cal State Los Angeles (10-7, 5-5) in a nationally televised game Saturday.
“I don’t know where we would be without him. He has been our most consistent player. We know what he’s going to give us every night,” Cal State coach Jeff Oliver said. “He is big enough he can be a forward and skilled enough to play point, if that’s where we need him. He does a little bit of everything.”
Williams’ line in the Coyotes’ most recent game confirms his all-around contribution. He scored only four points in a 63-57 win over Monterey Bay last Friday, but he also had nine rebounds, five assists and three steals — all team highs.
On the season, he is averaging 8.5 points but he also is second on the team in rebounding (6.0) and first in assists (3.1) and steals (2.4). He said he doesn’t mind the role of an unsung hero.
He ranks second in the conference in steals and seventh in rebounding and field goal percentage (.521).
“Sure, I would I like to score 20 points a game. Every player wants to be the points guy,” he said before practice on Wednesday. “But it’s a team and everyone has to make sacrifices. I don’t mind being the guy that does the cleanup as long as we win.”
Williams, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound guard, took the long road to San Bernardino. He drew considerable attention from Division I schools during his prep days at Marcos DeNiza High School in Tempe, Ariz., but it faded considerably after he broke his foot for the second time his senior year.
He settled on Arizona State because it was the local school and hoped to earn a scholarship after walking on a freshman. That never happened and he ended up using his medical redshirt.
He transferred to Fresno City College and helped the Rams reach the state semifinal, where it lost to an unbeaten Fullerton team led by current teammate Tim Denson as well as former Coyotes Michael Earl and Phil Jones.
Then it was on to Division I St. Mary’s, which also recruited him out of high school. After playing sparingly for two years he decided to seek a bigger role elsewhere.
“I didn’t see my role changing,” he said. “They had a lot of really good players. I liked the school and the players and I didn’t want to be one of those guys complaining. I just wanted to go and play my senior year where I could have an impact and make a team better.”
He planned on going to Division II Grand Canyon University, also in his home state, but that school was undergoing another coaching change. The former coach there suggested Cal State because of its tradition, playing facility and coaching staff.
Williams’ father Dave, a former player at Oklahoma State and current coach of the ABA’s Phoenix entry, got in touch with Oliver.
“We wanted him to be in a good program close enough we would get a chance to see him play,” Dave Williams said. “We also wanted a total experience, not just a good place to play basketball but a good academic environment. It was the best of both worlds.”
Williams made a trip to watch the Coyotes play in a summer league game at Cal Poly Pomona, then visited the school and worked out with some of the players. Oliver was sold.
“He was great,” Oliver said. “Sometimes guys don’t always look that good because you’re throwing them into a mix with guys they don’t know. But he was super.”
It wasn’t quite that easy. Williams had to complete an on-line Spanish class to finish off his degree from St. Mary’s before he could enroll at Cal State. That grade didn’t get posted until late August.
“We got him late, real late,” Oliver said. “Late enough we weren’t getting anyone else if he didn’t get in.”
The Coyotes haven’t quite lived up to expectations, but Williams has been satisfied with the move. He already has a degree in communications and is seeking another, possibly in architecture so he has something to fall back on if the right professional opportunity doesn’t come up.
He doesn’t regret not coming to Cal State sooner, even though it might have meant more playing time.
“You can’t have regrets,” he said. “You have to make a decision and live with it. I have learned something