The Longhorns’ season opener against Northern Colorado was the start of many things: the 2019-2020 season, head coach Shaka Smart’s fifth year with the team and the freshmen’s careers at Texas. In a game that saw the Longhorns start the season 1–0, one freshman in particular had a performance he will always remember.
Houston native Donovan Williams scored a quick six points with his first career field goal, three-point shot and free throw all happening in the first 12 minutes of the game. Junior guard Williams also added his first career block on an impressive defensive play towards the end of the half. He was the only freshman to score in the game for the Longhorns.
Each of the freshmen came to Texas for various reasons. For Williams, the opportunity to play close to home was something too good to pass up. While he held offers from schools like Arizona State, Georgia and Miami, the Longhorns offered something the other schools couldn’t.
“I’m big on family,” Williams said. “Most of my family is from Texas, so I grew up being a Texas fan. My mom and my dad and all my immediate family can come see home games and away games since the Big 12 is pretty near Texas. So the decision for me was really easy.”
Another element of recruiting that struck a chord with Williams was the close bond he formed with Smart throughout the process. The coach’s commitment in helping Williams achieve his goals made the decision that much easier.
“My job is to help them accomplish their goals,” Smart said. “We tell them during the recruiting process that if you choose Texas your goals become our goals.”
One of Williams’ goals was to suit up for the Longhorns and contribute early in his college career. Before the game, the freshman said his adrenaline was flowing, which forced him to cope with something unfamiliar: nerves before a college basketball game.
“Before games, I like to be really calm,” Williams said. “I never want to be too amped up because your mind goes everywhere, especially if it’s a big game. Your adrenaline is already going to be rushing so for me I feel like I play better when I can think better and my head is more clear.”
In the months leading up to the start of the season, Williams had already started to turn heads with his ability to find the basket. While still needing to adjust to the pace and physicality of the game, the talented freshman is well on the way to becoming a regular contributor.
“Donovan is a great scorer,” sophomore guard Courtney Ramey said. “He can score with the best of us. I think his biggest thing is the physicality, he’s young and needs to learn to be more physical.”
While Williams only played for about 17 minutes in the game, he still contributed to the season opening victory, scoring eight points in his career debut. His early performance gave fans a window into the start of a promising career in Burnt Orange.