Call him D-Will.
Deron Williams is making his own name in the NBA with his exciting play. What do great players do? They force their teammates to raise their level of play, by raising theirs as well.
2008 brings a new challenge for Deron. Already on the verge of becoming an All-star, his greatest task is elevating his Utah Jazz over the hump into the finals. Successfully doing so would take himself as well as his team out of the Stockton and Malone shadow.
Already early into the NBA season, Deron is showing why analysts have him ranked behind Steve Nash as the best point guard in the NBA today. Quick instincts and a special feel for the game put Deron in a league of his own. However, lets go back and revisit a younger Deron, just trying to find his way on a promising Illinois team.
Ask any one around the University of Illinois campus if they knew the kind of potential Deron Williams possessed, while he played for the Fighting Illini for 3 years. They will tell you from the moment he stepped on campus, you could feel the potential but had to wait to see it manifest itself.
Deron sat back quietly, analyzed the play and movement of the game, studied great Illini player Frank Williams and took note. All the while patiently waiting for his time.
That time came for Deron when Frank left early for the NBA and he took full advantage of it. Leading the team in assist, collecting all Big Ten awards, then eventually taking the Illini to the final four overcoming a 15 point deficit in 3 minutes, and eventually to the championship game.
Deron certainly had the potential but often times, as he was in high school to former NBA player and friend Bracey Wright, he was overshadowed. This time, it was in the form of a 6 foot 0 lightning quick guard name Dee Brown, who became the star and face of the Illini program during their amazing run to the championship.
The stars are shining on Deron now who looks almost unrecognizable to most Illini fans with an improved first step, an improved long-range jumper, and a new lean muscular body.
Deron may have been overlooked by some, however, as we often see, talent can't hide for to long. Eventually someone will take notice and NBA fans are seeing everything Deron has to offer now, with more to come.
The comparisons keep rolling in for Deron and rightfully so. John Stockton and Jason Kidd come to mind for most.
All along, Deron still remains that humble guy those Illini and jazz fans love. A team player that is always willing to get the ball to his teammates first, however, can take over a game at any opportunity.
He remains the model of what hard work looks like, what staying overtime after practice can turn into.
He forces his teammates to reach there potential and not settle for less.
It certainly has been a long road from the Colony of Texas where Deron played his High School ball, to the Utah Jazz. It is a learning lesson if anything and Deron seems to be passing with flying colors.