DePaul lands Max Williams as preferred walk-on


Photo courtesy of Max Williams

Max Williams dribbles up the basketball for IMG Academy. Williams committed to DePaul on Monday as a preferred walk-on

Growing up, Max Williams always had a goal to play basketball for a Division I school.

On Monday, Williams was able to achieve that goal as he committed to DePaul as a preferred walk-on.

“Growing up and being born in the city of Chicago and being acclimated to the special basketball culture that exists within this city, it’s always been a dream of mine to play at a bigger university — such as DePaul,” Williams said in a phone interview with The DePaulia. “And being able to walk on at a school like DePaul is just I couldn’t pass up.”

Williams played high school basketball at the Latin School of Chicago. During his high school career, Williams and his team played on DePaul’s basketball court multiple times against Francis Parker. 

“Growing up in the city of Chicago, I played with a lot of players coming in and out,” Williams said. “I’ve played with some of the guys on the DePaul basketball roster. I went to the Latin School of Chicago, and each year we would have a rivalry game against Francis Parker and that would be held at DePaul’s stadium. So, we played two games a year on DePaul’s court and it was a really special experience. And I always dreamed of playing on the court in college one day, and that was always a goal of mine.” 

Last season, Williams played at IMG Academy for the post-graduate team. The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 14 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the field and 85 percent from the free-throw line. 

“I was given the opportunity to play for the high school national team, which was the team that eventually went on to win the Geico championship,” Williams said. “I played with them for the first semester. So, playing under Sean Mcaloon was a special experience and it taught me a lot. That kind of led me in choosing to do a post-graduate year, which I would then go on to play for coach Meyers. 

“This past year, I started the season having to undergo surgery for my right knee. It was a minor tweak, I think I was only out for a couple of weeks. I was able to jump back in and heading into winter break I think we were undefeated. I think they had us ranked second or third in the national polls for all prep schools. So, I think just practicing every day with the kind of guys we had… I think it will help me be prepared for what to expect at DePaul.” 

While it has always been Williams’ dream to play for a school like DePaul, he and his dad began reaching out to the coaching staff as of last year. Through their conversations with the team, they were able to build a relationship with assistant coach Tim Anderson.

Last season, Anderson was the Blue Demons’ head coach for the first three games as Dave Leitao was suspended by the NCAA for failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance. Anderson and DePaul went 3-0 to start the season, and went into Big East play with a 12-1 record. 

Williams was also able to watch DePaul’s conference opener against Seton Hall, which the Blue Demons lost 74-66. But it was just recently that Williams and his father were able to meet with Anderson in-person to discuss the next steps of his career. 

“I started talking to coach Anderson at the end of my senior year at IMG Academy,” Williams said. “I was trying to walk-on last year, we were in contact back and forth for a bit. When we realized we weren’t going to be able to get a spot at DePaul, me and my family sat down to discuss all options. We realized that doing a post-graduate year at IMG would be my best option if I wanted to reach my goal of playing for DePaul. So, we kept in contact with them throughout the entire year. I think it was recently that we were able to meet with coach Anderson. Me and my dad sat down with coach Anderson, and he told us the rules of what it’s like being a walk-on.”

During their conversation, Anderson told Williams that he can help guide him in his basketball career. But being a walk-on makes it even harder for a player like Williams to see minutes in his first year at the program. 

DePaul had five walk-ons on the roster last year, with Mick Sullivan and Sullivan Menard leaving the program in April. All five of those players saw limited action throughout their entire DePaul career, but Williams hopes to work hard enough that he can earn playing time by his second season. 

“I’m looking forward to getting to work and once I step on court in practice I can’t let my guard down,” Williams said. “I’m going to have to compete in every drill. I’m going to have to push the guys. I can’t just lay back. I am hungry and I want to show everyone that one day I’m capable of adding value. Obviously, I have to start off in this role and I’m going to work as hard as I can to show everyone.”