Of all the teams that make up the Big East Conference, St. John's' offseason and preparation for the new season has been not the smoothest of transitions to say the least. In late March, the program parted ways with Steve Lavin and in his place hired Red Storm great Chris Mullin as the 20th coach in the program's history.
From the onset, Mullin had his work cut out for him as he was walking into a program that was in the midst of transition out of the Lavin era and into this new era that would be without a cast of players known to fans everywhere. D'Angelo Harrison, Sir'Dominic Pointer, and a number of other players were on their way out either to graduation or planning on taking their talents to the next level.
While the program was in the middle of upheaval, Mullin began to build the foundation of his roster for the coming season. Among his initial moves was the landing of two transfers, Tariq Owens from Tennessee and Darien Williams from City College of San Francisco. While Owens will be sitting out this upcoming season, Darien Williams will be on the court for the Red Storm.
The 6-foot-8 Williams originally from Cerritos, California played two seasons of JUCO ball for two separate programs. His first season was with Iowa Western Community College and he averaged 16.1 points per game and 6.1 rebounds while shooting at 41% from outside of the arc. His play is not exclusively held to just beyond the arc as he only took 29 percent of his shots from outside the arc. Within the perimeter he is a 55 percent shooter and was able to draw fouls at a rate of 44 percent, so he is not shy about making or getting contact underneath the basket.
He also had six double-digit rebound games over the span of his 27 games played for Iowa Western and also scored 20 or more points 10 times during that same stretch. His career high for a single season was 37 points, which he did against State Fair Community College.
Following his season at Iowa Western, Williams switched on over to the City College of San Francisco, but sat out the season as he was recovering from surgery on both shoulders. He had one operation done in July and another one done in October, in the mean time as he was unable to play he slimmed down a bit from his weight of 220 to 210 pounds.
In November of 2014, Williams signed a letter of intent to join Iowa State as he was being heavily recruited by then Iowa State assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih. Aside from Iowa State, Williams had interest from Nebraska, Southern California, Kansas State, and Louisville before committing to Iowa State. It appeared at the time that he was going to be a Cyclone for the remainder of his eligibility, especially as it appeared he was a perfect fit for Fred Hoiberg's system.
Williams time in Ames would be a short one as he was ineligible to play 2014-15 season and Iowa State would be in for a change as Matt Abdelmassih, Williams' lead recruiter was en route to Queens to become a part of Chris Mullin's bench.
In early April, Williams decommitted and was granted his release from Iowa State. In a matter of just days, he transferred over to St. John's to become to second player to come on board to the Chris Mullin era. He is also following his lead recruiter, Abdelmassih, as well.
At the time of his transfer, Williams was the perfect fit for a team that was going to include Rysheed Jordan and Chris Obekpa, however following a series of events that included Jordan declaring for the NBA and more recently Obekpa transferring to UNLV, the scope for Williams has shifted.
He will still be an essential piece for Mullin's first season as head coach. For Williams, he has a significant scoring punch as shown by his time at Iowa Western and could be a force up front for the Johnnies, especially in his abilities to draw contact.
While this is a season of transition for St. John's, it will be one where Darien Williams will get to show all that he has to offer for the Johnnies. Hopefully he gets off to the right foot following his two shoulder surgeries, but he will be one to watch this season for the Red Storm regardless.