There are few people talented enough to compete at the college level, let alone play multiple sports. Aaron Williams is one of the lucky few that can say that he belongs to this category. Williams, who had just come off a career season as the Red Hawks’ leading receiver, has made his way back onto the basketball court to show that he is a force to be reckoned with.
If you ask him how he handles the weight of two teams and his senior year on his back, he’ll tell you that you just have to put your mind to it. According to Williams, it’s all about time management, a lot of work and a lot of rest. He believes that it is all about the bigger picture. “I probably won’t ever be able to play these sports in this type of atmosphere ever again, so you just have to push through it,” Williams said.
This season is Williams’ first back on the court since his freshman year at Montclair State. Williams had what he described as an “okay” freshman season, starting six games and putting up 106 points. When he decided on Montclair State, the West Orange native came here primarily to play basketball, but had hoped he could play football his freshman year as well.
When his plans fell short, he looked to play football his sophomore year. “I just wanted to give football a try,” Williams said. “Basketball, I can play whenever. Football you don’t really get to play in college.” The fifth-year senior has played four seasons under head coach Rick Giancola, with this past fall being his last season in a Red Hawks football jersey. Denzel Nieves, a teammate of Williams for the past three years on the football team, described him as an aggressive player who loves to compete. “He’s not afraid of anybody on the field,” Nieves said.
Yet, as basketball season approached, Williams had a feeling that he would be back to his basketball roots his senior year. “I kind of wanted to do it for myself. Everybody is always saying you can’t do both,” Williams said. “At least give it just one year of me doing both.”
Williams and Head Basketball Coach Marlon Sears had mutual interest in each other before the season began. Sears explained that bringing in a new player once the team had already been established could have been a cause for hesitation but Williams didn’t have those fears because of his personality. “I think his leadership more than anything has really helped us,” Sears said.
However, transitioning from football to basketball wasn’t as easy as Williams made it seem. Williams admits that he was struggling in the beginning of the season, making his way from the stop-and-go lifestyle of football to the continuous pace of basketball. “I remember we were conditioning in practice and he was so tired,” teammate Shaun Russell said. “But he never gave up ― he finished just like the rest of us.”
He has gotten into the swing of things, however, “winning a couple games for the team this season,” according to Sears. If you ask his teammates, it’s obvious that he is putting everything he has into whatever is being asked of him, whether it’s football, basketball or maintaining his GPA. And, if you ask Denzel Nieves a little more about his dual-sport teammate, he’ll tell you “he likes to dance at parties.”“he likes to dance at parties.”