Growing up in Chicago, Purdue junior forward Trevion Williams learned the value of rebounding at an early age.
“I like the physical side of things and growing up playing basketball, I wanted to be a point guard,” Williams said. “Somebody had to sit me down and say, like, it’s not for everybody, and they told me you have to do the things that people don’t want to do, and people don’t want to play defense. People don’t want to go rebound the basketball. Everyone wants to score.
“I found that one thing that kind of separates me and helps me make a name for myself, so I’m going to continue with it.”
It helps, of course, that Williams played last season at 6-foot-9 and 270 pounds. But Williams broke through because of his ability to both score inside and control the boards. He posted eight double-doubles, including six in Big Ten play, averaging 11.5 points and 7.6 rebounds.
With the beginning of Purdue basketball practices this week, Williams is preparing again to take on his role as an inside scorer and physical presence on the glass.
“I kind of had to set myself aside and realize how much my role means to this team, and I’ve been constantly working on my game, working on my body,” Williams said. “So it’s been paying off for me.”
Ideally, Williams said he’d like to play this season between 255 and 260 pounds. He said he’s about 10 pounds over that target weight.
“I’m slowly getting there,” Williams said. “I kind of want to be consistent with that, just getting better eating habits. I’m working towards it.”
Williams averaged 21.5 minutes per game. Purdue coach Matt Painter said Williams getting to a lighter playing weight would not only help him with fatigue and foul trouble but would sharpen other aspects of his game as well.
“You continue to get into shape and keep working at it,” Painter said. “It’s not something that ever stops. You want to put yourself in the best possible position. He’s a guy that can really pass the ball, he can handle the ball, and so the better shape he can get, he can move off the bounce, especially against bigger guys. So he can move around and really be nimble to go along with what he does in the post.”
Williams said most of his offseason conditioning has consisted of getting up and down the floor during workouts, which have been sporadic over the summer due to the pandemic. But he feels confident he’ll be ready when the season starts Nov. 25.
“I don’t feel too much pressure,” Williams said. “I know what’s coming. I know what to expect. I know how many minutes I have to play in order for us to or be able to play, in order for us to kind of flush it and kind of get going. My role is big this year. We don’t have any seniors, so as juniors (we) have to kind of buckle down and take this team on our own and kind of build the rest of the guys up and get them going.”
Off the court, Williams said he was unable to return to his native Chicago, where he’s worked with inner-city youth, due to the pandemic. He did spend time reading to kids at preschools in Lafayette during the spring and summer.
“That’s kind of my passion, working with kids,” Williams said. “I enjoy watching them grow up. I think it’s kind of interesting watching them grow into an adult, and, you know, me growing up, I didn’t have all the necessary resources to put me in the best position, so I just kind of want to give back with everything that I’ve been taught. It makes me feel better about myself.”
With sophomore center Emmanuel Dowuona out during the first week of practice, freshman 7-3 center Zach Edey has gotten more playing time in the post in drills. Williams said Edey has made an early impression. “He’s blocking everything in practice … he’s going to give other teams problems with his length,” Williams said. “He’s similar to Matt Haarms. A little stronger, a little bigger and I think he’s a little more aggressive. I think he’s going to be OK.”