SoCal hooper Ziaire Williams is on the rise

He’s one of the fastest rising juniors in the country.

There probably isn’t a high school basketball player in Southern California that’s seen his stock rise faster than Ziaire Williams.

The junior forward from Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High School has emerged on the national scene as one of the best players in the Class of 2020. He used a strong summer with Basketball Training Institute (BTI) to catch the eye of many Division I colleges.

Williams recently took an official visit to Stanford, where he holds an offer from. He also has offers from 15 other D-1 schools including North Carolina, Arizona, Oregon, Boise State, Cal, Creighton, Loyola Marymount, Notre Dame, Pepperdine, TCU, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, USC, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

According to Williams, he isn’t necessarily looking for the biggest named school.

“Not only a great athletic program, but also a balance with academics. That’s a big thing for me and my family as well as location and just like how I could fit in the program,” Williams told Mars Reel. “I don’t want to go to a big name school just because it’s a big name school. I want to go to a school where I could thrive and fit into.”

At 6-foot-9, Williams is developing into a player that will fit in with whatever college he chooses to attend. He’s a long and athletic wing who is comfortable putting the ball on the floor and attacking off the dribble and stepping back and shooting from distance.

His height gives him an advantage over most players at his position, but there is one aspect to his physical frame that he wants to address before his high school career is over. He wants to bulk up to be able to take advantage of his size as well.

“My strength, I want to get stronger, and post offense I guess you could say.” Williams said. “But really everything, there’s never one thing you can stop improving on.”

It’s natural for kids to look up to NBA players and try and pattern their games after them, and Williams is no different. There is one player in particular that he tries to model his game after.

“I’m a big fan of KD. We have the same body structure, that’s who a lot of people compare me to,” Williams said. “I study his game a little bit and see the different ways I can score on the court. So yeah, probably Kevin Durant.”

This season in particular, Williams has had to adjust to a new type of role. He’s had to deal with being the focal point of the Knights offense and the defensive pressure that follows.

So far, he’s done well with the adjustment. He admits that it used to bother him at times, but dealing with the added defensive intensity is just something that comes with the territory.

“It’s every day, you eventually get used to it. When I was younger I used to always get frustrated, and that’s another thing that I’ve been working on, is mental toughness,” Williams said. “It’s knowing that every day someone is going to come at me. Every day somebody wants to be in the position that I am in. I just got to deal with it, ignore it, and fight through it.”

And as the regular season comes to a close, and the CIF playoffs are right around the corner, Williams and his teammates have some lofty goals.

“We just want to win Mission League, CIF, and state. Those are our goals,” Williams said. “Me and my teammates, we’ve been working hard this year. We just want to do whatever it takes to win league, state, and CIF.”

David Yapkowitz is a contributor for Mars Reel based in Southern California.

You can follow him: @Dave_Yapkowitz