The duo, along with Brandon Watkins and Nathan Adrian, make up one of the best collections of forwards in this year's recruiting class. Williams is #57 in the Scout.com Top 100, while Elijah Macon is now slotted at the #99 spot. Only Kansas, ranked third in the nation at this point, is higher among Big 12 schools than the Mountaineers.
Williams has risen steadily up the evaluation chart this year while helping Montverde Academy to a 22-2 record and a #2 national ranking by USA Today. He has continued to improve his inside and mid-range game, displaying the focus to work on those areas that will benefit him the most in college. While many big men want to roam the perimeter, Williams has put his natural talents in the post and paint to work this season, Of the four, he may be the most game-ready for WVU in 2013. He and Montverde have one game remaining, against Huntington Prep next month.
Macon, playing a prep year at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, has the twin task of concentrating on academics as well as athletics. He has been on a tear of late, earning MVP honors at the New Hampton School Tournament and recording a game high 18 points in an 80-78 win over highly-regarded Tilton School. The Bobcats have two regular season games to go, followed by the New England Prep School tournament and the National Prep School championships. If Macon takes care of his academics, he too will have a chance to contribute at West Virginia next season. He's a bit leaner and lankier than Williams, and can be a defensive force as well as an effective scorer.
Watkins might have the most immediate potential as a defensive player, but is also working to improve his offensive skills. He has good timing as a shot-blocker, and his long reach also helps as he challenges opposing field goal tries. As detailed recently, he's adding moves to his post game, and can put the ball on the floor for a dribble or two from mid-range to get to the basket.
Adrian is recovering from a broken bone in his foot, which halted the progress he had been making during his senior season. A solid shooter with range out to the three-point line, he's a bit of a different player than the others in this signing class, despite his similar height. He has good shooting form, but can also drive the ball if he's crowded outside. If his shooting accuracy translates to college, he would give West Virginia a different sort of weapon at the three or four spot than it currently has.
With a lack of shooters on this year's team, the Mountaineers have received some criticism for signing a crop of four forwards in this class. While that's a valid concern, another item should also be considered before counting this class as a failure in that regard. While WVU doesn't have any deadly long-range snipers in this group, there's more than one way to score. Both Williams and Macon have the ability to be double-digit scorers in their West Virginia careers, and both could provide offensive rebounding and second chance scoring next season. Watkins might not be as physical inside, but he has a respectable mid-range jumper with a soft touch that certainly could make him an offensive weapon in the future. Adrian also has the ability to shoot from the outside and drive the ball, and could be a match-up problem that could give other bigger forwards some defensive problems.
Overall, this class isn't one to match those garnered by the schools at the top of the rankings. However, it is one that the Mountaineers can build upon, and hopefully keep intact for the next three to four years as it does so.