Troy Williams arrived at Indiana University following the program's first Big Ten title in over a decade, but the soul of that team: two seniors and two early-entrants into the NBA, weren't around by the time he arrived. The 35th best player in his recruiting class, per 247Sports, was expected to pair up with Noah Vonleh and join returning stars Will Sheehey and Yogi Ferrell to make the 2013-14 season a reload, not a rebuild, for Tom Crean and the Hoosiers.
There were flashes of greatness, certainly, as a very young Indiana team tried to figure each other out. Ultimately, their inconsistency proved to be too prevalent to overcome, and they tumbled out of the postseason picture, managing only seven conference victories. Troy finished the season with an offensive rating of 100.1, as slightly above average as you can mathematically get.
From day one, Troy's career was stacked up to Victor Oladipo's. Fair or not, everything the freshman did was meticulously dissected and compared to the NBA's 2nd overall pick. It wasn't a difficult line to draw, two hyper-athletic wing players who were as earnest as they were raw, but it made it challenging to appreciate the differences. Troy didn't come to Indiana to be the next Oladipo, he came to build his own legacy.
And seek vigilante justice on any basketball rim he came across.
In his sophomore campaign, Troy raised his overall shooting percentage while shooting twice as many shots, along with his rebounding at both ends, increased his assist rate, and improved at the charity stripe by nearly 8%. His turnovers, a critique that would be brought up nearly every time he held a basketball for the duration of his career, were lowered by over 5%. This lead to a sophomore offensive rating of 112.8, a remarkable number for someone who only took thirteen three-pointers.
He had taken a big step forward in his maturation as a ball player, leading many to hope for an Oladipo-esque quantum leap in his junior campaign. While he didn't turn in a Player of the Year-quality year, he did manage to replicate being a key cog on the roster of an outright Big Ten Champion. He didn't do it with a smooth jumper and lockdown defense, instead he crashed the glass and turned every baseline in the conference into his own personal runway; doing with his two legs the kind of things most human beings would need a trampoline to accomplish.
Against arch rival Kentucky, with a trip to the Sweet Sixteen on the line, Troy Williams was about the only thing that worked against a lengthy Wildcats team early on. John Calipari's team worked hard to keep the ball out of Yogi Ferrell's hands and Tom Crean didn't hesitate to give the keys to Troy. The results, as they so often were with Troy, were spectacular in both directions. No Kentucky defender seemed prepared for his first step or his extra gear and he would get to the rim more effortlessly than anyone else in an Indiana uniform that day. That said, there was always a risk that he might not have the ball by the time he gets there, or that he would miss a dunk so thunderously that it would turn into a three-quarters court outlet pass to a streaking Wildcat going the other way.
But with 8:40 remaining in the game and the Hoosiers down a point, Troy would corral a Wildcat miss and glide down the court. At home, every person in a red shirt held their breath as he crossed the time line and received a screen from Thomas Bryant at the top of the key. At the three point line, Troy launched into his infamous top gear, crossed over a defender and launched up at the rim, kissing a reverse layup off the glass while getting fouled.
Indiana wouldn't trail the rest of the game. Troy would dish out assists on the next two buckets, just to show off.
While many want to talk about what your career at Indiana wasn't, let us all appreciate what it was. Of the top ten dunks from the past three years, Williams' entries probably occupy seven or eight spots. His errors often came as a product of trying to do something incredible. If I tried to cross a guy over and then reverse jam it in a seven-footer's face, I would snap both ankles in half while my kneecaps liquefied into gravy. The fact that Troy might lose the handle on the basketball a couple of times trying to make some college kid rethink his whole dang life isn't (and shouldn't be) enough to not try it at all.
So thank you, Troy Williams. Best of luck to whatever comes next, and God save any rims you come across.