Williams prepares for final home game as Georgia takes on Mississippi State

Donte’ Williams has spent his Georgia career flashing athleticism around and above the rim.

Williams prepares for final home came as Georgia takes on Mississippi State
Marc Weiszer

The 6-foot-9 Miller Grove High product doesn’t often put up big scoring outputs and has been foul-prone at times, but has shown an ability during his career to send back an opponent’s shot or tip in or slam home a teammate’s miss.

“I’ve just been an athletic player so I put myself in position to get a lot of blocked shots,” Williams said. “Same on the offensive end, I try to put myself in position to catch tips. Both of those things are my favorite things to do.

Williams will play his final home game tonight for Georgia (16-12, 10-6) against Mississippi State (13-16, 3-13) unless the Bulldogs get an NIT game at home later this month.

Since he’s Georgia’s lone senior, he’ll be the only player honored tonight before the Bulldogs’ final regular season home game when he’ll start his 87th career game.

“It’s a little bit of emotions, but at the same time I’m trying to get the win,” said Williams, who averages 5.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game this season. “It’s crazy how time flies so fast. It seem like I just got here yesterday and now I’m leaving.”

Williams ranks third among active SEC players with 132 blocks and is seventh in rebounds with 488.

He leads Georgia with 19 dunks this year. No other player has double digit dunks.

“You could put together a highlight reel from his career of just of some spectacular plays of offensive rebounds or blocked shots,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “He covers up so many errors by other people defensively. He grades out as the best or second best defender every game.”

Williams sits fifth on Georgia’s career blocked shots list, 10 away from Dominique Wilkins who had 142 in three seasons.

“He doesn’t mind doing the dirty work,” Fox said. “He doesn’t mind not getting as many shots as other people. He’s just never been selfish in any way.”

Forward Marcus Thornton would have joined him in tonight’s pregame ceremony, but the Bulldogs are glad to get him back for one more season after he took a medical redshirt last year after knee surgery.

Teammates describe Williams as quiet and Fox said that being the lone senior may make Williams “a little uncomfortable because there’s going to be some focus on him.”

Williams and Thornton are the only two players remaining from the 2010-11 team that was the last from Georgia to reach the NCAA tournament.

“I just want this team and the guys on this team to just experience the same thing,” Williams said.

For that to happen, Georgia probably will have to win the SEC tournament next week in Atlanta.

Williams and Thornton have known each other since playing against each other when they were 13.

“He’s a great, great competitor,” Thornton said. “Not necessarily the loudest person, but just when it comes to competing and trying to win, he’s definitely the person you want to have on your side. A lot of people don’t understand that in this day and age.”

Said forward Nemanja Djurisic, who roomed with Williams a couple of seasons ago: “He’s a great teammate. He doesn’t talk much, but when he speaks, he speaks loud.”

Williams plays these days at 225 pounds after arriving to Georgia at a mere 197 back in 2010, but he still wants to be bigger.

“I still have got to add on a couple of pounds, probably 10 more pounds of muscle, but I feel like my body is going in the right direction,” said Williams, who has fouled out of 19 games in his career, but just four times this season.

Williams has played center for much of his career, but this year he’s slid over to the power forward spot when Thornton is on the court and he plays center when Djurisic is on the court.

“It’s more comfortable, but at the end of the day the four and the five that’s the same thing,” Williams said. “There’s really not a big difference.”

Williams is on course to graduate in May with a degree in consumer economics, but he wants to pursue a pro career, even if that takes him overseas.

“I’ll probably still continue to play ball,” he said, “until my body gives up on me. Then after that, I’ll find something that I’m passionate about.”

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@JeffSchultzAJC @SethEmerson @BizWriterKristi Less than 3 weeks until basketball opener. Not that we are counting down.

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