Williams could be X-factor

BY CHARLIE GREEN | JULY 23, 2015 5:00 AM

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Over the second-half of the Prime Time League season, incoming Iowa freshman Christian Williams has looked like a completely different player.

After playing just a small role in the offense for Brendan Unkrich’s Pelling/Comfort Care to start, the guard has emerged as another dangerous scorer to complement Mike Gesell and Matt Bohannon. His last two performances indicate a possible change in mentality.

Williams scored 20 and 26 in those contests, but the number of shots he took changed the most. Before he went 9-of-18 from the floor against Ray Swetalla’s Linn County Anesthesiologists on July 9, the most shots he had taken was 5 on June 25 against Dan Ahrens’ Jill Armstrong Team.

Unkrich has the pieces to make a run in the postseason; four of his players, including Bohannon and Gesell, scored more than 20 points each as the team fell to Kevin Sanders’ BlendCard/McCurry’s in the absence of Williams.

Unkrich and Company will face off with Swetalla’s squad tonight, a team that beat it, 112-92, on July 9.

But add Williams to a group that also includes Klint Carlson, Steven Soukup, and Darius Stokes, and they make up one of Prime Time’s deepest squads.

In other league action, Ron Nove’s Culver’s/Vinton Merchants battles Randy Larson’s Westport/Beat the Bookstore.

Iowa forwards Jarrod Uthoff and Dom Uhl provide length and Big Ten experience for the roster, and Northern Iowa’s Aarias Austin is a viable strong scoring threat at guard.

Nove’s team finished 3-3 in the regular season behind Iowa guard Anthony Clemmons, Northern Iowa’s Jeremy Morgan, and fellow Panther Robert Knar.

Their fate may lie in whether they can slow down the versatile Uthoff.

At 5-1, Jess Settles’ Marion Iron came within a coin flip of receiving a first-round bye — losing out to Ahrens’ team for the top seed.

Instead, Settles’ team will play Sander’s, a team that has struggled to win this summer.

The team has missed players such as Dale Jones and Melsahn Besabe in several games, and it will certainly need them tonight if it hopes to pull off an upset. Northern Iowa’s Paul Jesperson has been on of the league’s best, scoring 55 last week in a victory over Unkrich’s team. He shot 11-of-16 from beyond the arc in the contest.

Incoming Hawkeye Brandon Hutton can score as well, and he has the athleticism and length to give opponents trouble on both ends of the floor.

But Settles’ team is deep and dangerous. The group has four guards in Matt Gatens, Brady Ellingson, Wes Washpun, and Andrew Fleming who can easily overwhelm a defense when they get rolling.

Even if just one of the four gets hot, it will create open looks for the others. Fleming especially has been outstanding. The incoming Iowa freshman appears more confident in his game every week, dropping 42 in an overtime win on July 16. He could be on his way to an MVP season.

If Northern Iowa’s Justin Dahl can rebound and occasionally take pressure off his teammates at guard, Settles’ squad will be a tough out in the playoffs.

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