Photo by Christine Troyke
LAWRENCEVILLE -- As boys basketball head coach at Central Gwinnett, David Allen has watched plenty of his players grow up before his eyes during their careers.
Sometimes he has had to ask certain players to grow up a little sooner than he might normally expect.
Two of those players -- senior guard Brian Williams and sophomore forward Jordan Adams -- have become the foundation of the Black Knights' 14-2 start this season, which has them tied for the lead in Region 8-AAAAA.
"It's clear both of them want the ball in their hands when the game's on the line," Allen said. "From a coaching standpoint, it's good to have more than one kid out there that can finish a game."
Two years apart in school, Williams and Adams have obviously had different timetables for their growth though the Central program.
Williams' began during his sophomore campaign two years ago, his first year as a starter, in which he finished second on the team in both scoring (at 11.9 points per game) and assists (2.1 apg).
The 6-foot-2 guard was asked to further develop the next season after starting point guard Devonta White transferred to Centennial.
"Brian played the two guard all the way through youth basketball," Allen said. "As a sophomore, he played the off guard for us and was just a spot-up shooter, but you could tell he was going to be a good player.
"When that point guard job opened up, we felt like he was the best option for that. Ever since then, I think he's grown as a player. He's got a much better understanding of the game since moving to the point guard spot."
Indeed, Williams responded to the move last season by posting team bests of 13.0 points and 3.9 assists per game.
That growth has carried over to this season as Williams' numbers have climbed to 15.8 points and 4.9 assists per game, including averages of 23 points and four assists in Central's last two games.
But Williams insists he hasn't been alone in his maturation into a team leader.
He's drawn strength from his teammates, including Adams, as well as fellow seniors Kyron Anderson, Jamaal Little, Kwabena Frimpong and Ayo Madamidola.
"There's more team chemistry this season," said Williams, who has drawn interest from such college programs as Elon, Wofford, Gardner-Webb and Georgia Southern. "Everybody knows their roles. People are stepping up.
"It's good now because I've got Jordan to help me out with the scoring, so it doesn't all have to be on me."
At 6-4, Adams has provided an undersized Central team with an inside presence this season, leading the team with 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
It hasn't been easy. The sophomore has had to battle big, strong posts like Meadowcreek's Lavon Hooks and Terrance Glass, South Gwinnett's Adonis Harrison and Chad Ross and Grayson's Andrew Osemhan.
However, Adams came into that battle well-prepared. He played several years of AAU summer basketball and started at quarterback for the Central football team for the better part of the last two seasons.
"You've just got to play hard and be active on the glass," Adams said. "And we've got some big guards, and they can help rebound. "
He also credits a lot of help from his friends -- most notably, Williams -- in helping him stay focused since he began getting significant playing time as a freshman last season.
"They looked after me a lot and helped me," Adams said of Williams and the other veterans last season. "We're all a team and we all have to help each other out."
Of course, even as quickly as Williams and Adams have developed, it is still a work in progress and there are still growing pains.
The most recent example is the suspension Adams had to serve over the last two games -- including a three-point loss in a critical region showdown with Meadowcreek on Tuesday -- after being ejected from Central's win over Grayson on Jan. 14.
However, Allen believes both Adams and Williams have shown their ability to learn from situations like that over the years and become better, more mature players.
"As with most 14- or 15-year-olds, he's still got some more maturing to do," Allen said of Adams, who is expected to return to the Black Knights' line-up for tonight's game at Parkview. "But he seems like the kind of kid that's a quick learner."