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Men’s hoops gains 5-star recruit Ziaire Williams

Stanford secures best-ranked commit in program history

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Just days after standout freshman guard Tyrell Terry announced his decision to declare for the 2020 NBA draft and potentially leave Stanford, Cardinal men’s basketball welcomed a new star to its recruiting class. Sierra Canyon High School’s senior forward Ziaire Williams, who holds the No. 7 spot in the ESPN 100 for the 2020 class, announced his commitment to Stanford in a video posted to his personal social media accounts on Sunday.

The 6’8″ Williams was heavily sought-after by numerous other collegiate programs. His top five included four Pac-12 foes —USC, UCLA, Arizona and Oregon — and North Carolina.

With the decision to come to Stanford, Williams became the first 5-star recruit to commit since Reid Travis ’18 moved to the Farm in 2014. Williams is Stanford’s highest-ranked prospect in at least 13 years; no player who has signed with Stanford since 2007, when ESPN established its recruiting database, has been ranked higher than No. 10 in the ESPN 100.

Though he is perhaps the highest-ranked player to join the Cardinal roster in recent years, Williams is joining a team ripe with talent. Junior forward Oscar da Silva drew attention throughout the 2019-20 season averaging a team-high 15.7 points per game, shooting 57% from the field and reeling in 6.4 rebounds per contest. 

With Terry, who averaged just under 15 points, da Silva was half of a lethal scoring threat for the Cardinal; the pair combined for a whopping 47 points against Utah in February, before the NCAA season was cut short amidst COVID-19 concerns. Aside from the dynamic duo, Stanford’s 2019-20 lineup boasted sophomores Bryce Wills and Jaiden Delaire, both of whom were four-star prospects for the class of 2018, and junior Daejon Davis, whose 55 steals in 2019-20 ranked second in the conference. 

As a team in 2019-20, the Cardinal had the best overall scoring defense in the Pac-12 and the 16th best nationally during the regular season, allowing opponents just 62.5 points per game. A win over Colorado on March 1 earned Stanford its 20th win of the season, which marked the first time the program has finished with 20 or more wins since 2014-2015.

Playing amongst talent will be nothing new for Williams, who comes from rosters studded with big names. At his high school in Southern California, the forward played alongside Bronny James, son of NBA legend Lebron James, Zaire Wade, son of Dwyane Wade, and B.J. Boston, who committed to Kentucky. In 2019, Williams was one of 12 members of the USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Cup team, which brought home the gold medal at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup. 

While Williams’ commitment has made headlines, so have predictions of his place in the 2021 NBA draft as many question how long the highly-touted recruit will remain in college. Several media outlets have the high school senior projected as a potential lottery pick in next year’s NBA draft. 

Another popular topic in the world of college basketball is Stanford’s potential to be a top-25 team next year should Terry opt to return to Maples Pavilion. According to NCAA rules, the freshman has until June 3 to withdraw from the NBA draft in order to maintain his collegiate eligibility. 

Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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