Some stuff just isn’t fair: Louisville forward/center Malik Williams will miss the next 4-6 weeks after re-injuring his right during Saturday’s game at Duke.
After missing nearly a full year away from live-action basketball, Williams returned to the court Feb. 20 at North Carolina; the senior played 17 minutes. During Louisville’s home win over Notre Dame, Williams played 26 minutes: 10 rebounds, six points and two assists.
Even before he suffered the injury at Duke, Williams still didn’t look quite right. When healthy, Williams has been one of the more mobile big men in the ACC; he really came on during his sophomore and junior seasons as one of the better frontcourt defenders in the conference. As a junior, Williams finished runner-up for ACC Sixth Man of the Year — behind Patrick Williams of Florida State.
Louisville's on/off defensive splits with Malik Williams, per Hoop Explorer: Cards were very good defensively in 19-20, especially with Williams on the floor — opponents shot worse from all 3 levels (52 2P% rim) with Malik on the floor, LOU's defensive rebound rate jumped too pic.twitter.com/yyn14DpQFm
— Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) October 29, 2020
Williams looked (understandably) stiff against the Blue Devils; the movement and vertical game just weren’t there for the 6-foot-11 senior. At his best, Williams has shown real NBA potential; however, he just can’t get right with his foot.
After three years in the program, this season the center position seemingly belonged to Williams; no longer would he platoon with Steven Enoch. However, last November, just before the 2020-21 season started, Williams underwent surgery on his foot. As expected, Williams missed the next three months of basketball, which pushed redshirt freshman Jae’Lyn Withers to the starting center spot.
The surgery marked the second straight year that a right foot injury cost Williams valuable time at the start of season. According to the AP:
Williams’ recovery included water treadmill workouts before he progressed to strength conditioning and drills for agility skills, balance and stability. He also underwent daily bone stimulator treatments for 12 weeks before being cleared to begin basketball activity about two weeks ago.
Louisville has two more games remaining this season: at Virginia Tech (March 3) and home to Virginia (March 6), before the start of the ACC Tournament. Given the timeframe of Williams’ recovery, this could be the last we see Williams on the floor for Louisville, which would be a tremendous bummer.