In Play with Tom Markowski

Unrecognized by some, Detroit's Trevion Williams builds his case for being at the top of the 2018 class

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

Unrecognized by some, Detroit's Trevion Williams builds his case for being at the top of the 2018 class

Detroit – Trevion Williams might not be the best player in Michigan in the class of 2018 but he’s close.

Williams is a 6-8, 250-pound forward who has played the past two seasons at Detroit Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies after attending Chicago Mt. Carmel his freshman year.

This past season he averaged 22 points and 25 rebounds, and was named MVP in his team’s conference.

Yet Williams, despite his physical qualities and accomplishments, suffers, somehow, from a lack of notoriety.

Williams was not selected to the all-state teams released by the big three, nor was he named to the All-Detroit teams, as selected by the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News. The Free Press and the News have selected all-area teams, which includes Detroit, for over half a century. The big three are the Free Press, the News and the Associated Press. These news organizations select and release all-state teams for the three major sports, football, boys and girls basketball.

It must be pointed out that Williams did not compete in the state tournament last month. Williams, in his 17th game, suffered a fractured left foot on the first play, a jump ball, of Henry Ford Academy’s conference tournament semifinal against Hamtramck on Feb. 21.  

Two weeks later Williams had surgery and hasn’t played in a competitive game since. He is expected to play this weekend with his AAU team, the Family, in Virginia.

“I was very surprised,” Williams said when asked about the all-area and all-state snub. “I’ve been working very hard. I know my injury got me down. As far as the (all-state) rankings, I should have been in there. There are people (on the lists) on the same path as me.”

 

 

Bursting on the scene

 

 

Those who have seen Williams play can’t help but be impressed. He’s a post player who can shoot from the perimeter. He moves well for a player his size and he’s unselfish.

TJ Kelly of Inside Prep Sports (his website is www.ipsbasketball.com) first heard about Williams in December of 2015. Kelly, who grew up in Oakland County, has covered high school basketball in Michigan for 12 years and has been a knowledgeable source for college coaches and your everyday fan during this time.

“I was at the Roundball Classic (in Harper Woods),” Kelly said. “Williams wasn’t playing in it but people there told me I had to go see this guy at Henry Ford Academy. So in January I went to see him and he must have made six 3-pointers. I thought he’d be strictly a post player. His best attribute is his passing. He’s well-rounded. He has phenomenal hands.”

Williams did receive recognition from a number of publications before his junior season. This past December State Champs listed Williams as the No. 7 player overall and the Free Press had him No. 8 (longtime Free Press high school sports reporter Mick McCabe retired shortly after this list was released).

Kelly discounts the notion that Williams suffers from a lack of publicity. He said a number of players, like Theron Wilson of Royal Oak Dondero in the early 1990s, often aren’t well-publicized but are good players who must be seen and written about.

“It’s about due-diligence,” Kelly said. “(Williams) might be the only player who’s received a scholarship offer from Michigan State and not made all-state. I don’t think this will hurt him nationally. But instate he might not be a Mr. Basketball candidate because of not making all-state (this year).”

If Williams played for a school like Clarkston or Romulus, Class A schools that have won state titles recently, would he have been left off the all-state teams? Unlikely. Local media cover those teams on a regular basis.     

Henry Ford Academy, a.k.a. HFA, is a charter school located on Milwaukee Street in the heart of Midtown, just south of the Fisher Theater, which is located on West Grand Boulevard. As of yet, the school doesn’t sponsor a football program but its basketball teams, girls and boys, compete in the Michigan Metro Athletic Conference with public schools such as Ecorse, Hamtramck and River Rouge, and charter schools such as Detroit Community, Detroit University Prep Science and Math, among others.

HFA has approximately 451 students, grades 9-12, and competed in the Class B tournament. There are approximately 800 students, grades 6-12.

The Mustangs (11-8, 7-1 in the MMAC) didn’t play a particularly strong schedule and that fact likely kept some fans away. But they did play River Rouge, which reached a Class B semifinal, and Detroit Cornerstone, one of the top teams in Class C.

Like many charter schools, and many Class D schools, the gymnasium at HFA is quite small and the school does not have a large fan base.

Some charter schools suffer from anonymity and all of the above factors can contribute to Williams not being selected to the aforementioned all-state teams.

If Josh Jackson, the Kansas star and soon to be an NBA lottery pick, didn’t lead Detroit Consortium to the Class C title his sophomore year (2014) how many would remember that school? Its likely many don’t know that Consortium has since changed its name to Voyageur.

One can also point to the fact that Williams came to Detroit after finishing one year of high school in Chicago. He didn’t receive the hype most players do when they enter high school. Players like Chris Webber and Shane Battier, both of whom went to Detroit Country Day, come to mind. More recently Brandon Johns of East Lansing and Foster Loyer of Clarkston, also two of the top plyers in the class of 2018, received high marks before playing a minute of high school basketball.

But that’s in the past, whether recent or decades ago. Williams has proven he can play with the best and most of that comes during the AAU season. When Williams goes against the competition he does as a player at HFA it’s mostly a mismatch. It’s only when he’s matched up against the best players in the country that one can truly judge his ability.

“I’ve played AAU since the third or fourth grade in Chicago,” he said. “I was always the biggest kid growing up, with the biggest feet. I always played against the older guys.”

Williams is 16-years-old. His birthday is Sept. 16 so he will be a young senior. And he’s still growing.

For the record, Williams wore a size 16 shoe in the eighth grade. He now wears a size 18.

 

 

Recruiting

 

 

In addition to MSU, Williams has received scholarship offers from Illinois, Nevada-Las Vegas and Xavier.

Even so, Williams’ high school coaches, head coach Joe Hines and assistant Arnette Jordan, said this list will soon grow.

“This is an important summer,” Jordan said. “We have to bring out whoever he wants to be. We have to fine-tune his body, to be the best player in the state.”

Williams and his coaches agree that the one area he must work on is his play on the defensive end.

According to the national rankings, Johns, a 6-7 forward, is Michigan’s best. Rivals lists Johns at No. 43, Loyer at No. 92, Williams at No. 96 and Thomas Kithier of Macomb Dakota at No. 97.

Johns is No. 44 and the only Michigan player listed on ESPN’s top 60. Johns is No. 52 according to 247Sports, Williams is 10 spots below Johns and Kithier, a 6-7 forward, is at No. 119. Loyer, a 5-11 guard who, like Kithier, has committed to MSU, is No. 152 on 247Sports’ list.

Johns and Williams are uncommitted.

Academics are not an issue with Williams. He carries a 3.4 grade-point average and is taking two honors classes, English and Spanish. In addition to basketball, Williams likes to sing, mostly Gospel songs, and he thanked one of is instructors, Manal Kadry, with introducing him, favorably, to art.

“I like school,” Williams said. “I get to interact with people, with other students. I wasn’t a big art fan when I got here. But my teacher pushed us. It changed my attitude.”

Hines said he is working on upgrading his team’s schedule for next season leaving open the possibility of his team taking on Johns and East Lansing.

Williams is a humble person and is still adjusting to life in Detroit, away from much of his family, most of whom remain in the Chicago area. Though disappointed in being snubbed by some, he said he will continue to persevere and work hard toward reaching his goals of playing in college, and being the best player and person he can be. 

He credits his mother, Shawndra Lewis, for teaching him these strong, core values.

“It was a tough transition,” Williams said of the move to Detroit. “The people I’ve met here have been good to me and my mother and I have always had a strong bond.”

And, unlike a number of the state’s top players recently who have transferred out of state, like Jackson, Miles Bridges and others, Williams is staying put.

“I’m going to give this school a name,” he said.