Illini in mix for Simeon sophomore Williams

Illinois’ recent hire of assistant Paris Parham is already paying off as the Illini have put themselves in the mix for Simeon’s next star, sophomore forward Dennis Williams, according to Simeon coach Robert Smith on Friday.

Williams, a 6-5 swingman, and his mother visited Illinois on Thursday and left with an offer from Illini coach John Groce, according to Smith.

“(The visit) wasn’t planned until Paris was hired (on Tuesday),” Smith said on Friday. “Paris had a lot to do with it even though he’s not (in Champaign) yet.

“(Williams) went down there and took to Groce and really liked him and (assistant) Jamall (Walker.) That’s what I’m talking about Paris helping them out right away.”

Illinois joins Cal Poly, DePaul and Nebraska as schools to offer Williams.

Williams saw some playing time on Simeon’s varsity team as a freshman. While Smith wasn’t willing to put Williams in the category of a Derrick Rose, a former Simeon player, and Jabari Parker, a current Simeon player, just yet, Smith said Williams was unlike any player he’s coached before.

“I never had a kid with his ability,” Smith said. “He can be the next one from Simeon. I think the sky’s the limit for him. He’s starting to understand what it takes. He can score. He can play inside and outside. He’s going to be able to play the 1, 2, 3. He has great vision and feel for the game”