After setting a screen for Trey Davis, Red Claws center Devin Williams remained at the top of the key Sunday. Double-teamed, Davis tossed the basketball back to Williams, who eyed the rim and let fly a 25-footer.

Swish. Three points for Maine.

Not exactly what you’d expect from a rugged rebounder who, during a 14-game stretch encompassing December and the first two weeks of January, attempted a single shot from beyond the arc and missed it.

But Williams has expanded his repertoire lately. His 3-pointer in the 109-100 victory over the Long Island Nets marked his sixth straight game attempting a 3. Williams has made four of those nine shots from deep, adding another dimension to a powerful inside presence who ripped down 21 rebounds Thursday and 23 on Tuesday.

The Red Claws’ single-game rebounding record entering this season was 20.

Williams already has surpassed that three times. Not bad for a guy projected in November as a backup to big men Daniel Ochefu and Jonathan Holmes.

“We had invested a lot in both of those guys,” Coach Brandon Bailey said of Ochefu (since traded) and Holmes (injured since early December). “Devin, he’s a guy that just makes the most out of every opportunity he gets. He’s coachable and he works extremely hard.”

At 6-foot-9 and 255 pounds, Williams provides a dominant paint presence. He’s the biggest guy on a team filled with versatile guards and wings.

“I like to say I’m whatever the coach needs,” Williams said. “I’m a pretty good scorer, great rebounder, pretty good shooter. I like to share the ball. Pretty good defender. It’s just a matter of me going out there and being focused, and giving great energy.”

Assistant coach Alex Barlow actually played against the 23-year-old Williams in high school before Barlow went to Butler and Williams to West Virginia.

“We’re both from the Cincinnati area,” Barlow said. “Dev’s come a long way. He’s someone who takes his work seriously. He’s always in here getting in extra work and you see that work paying off in games.”

Sunday marked the 11th time this season Williams reached double digits in points and rebounds. He’s also handed out five assists in each of the past two games, both victories.

With 19 games remaining, including 10 of the next 12 on the road, the Red Claws are 16-15 and competing for one of the six Eastern Conference playoff berths. It they do wind up with a fourth consecutive postseason, Williams will be a big reason.

“He’s super professional,” Bailey said. “He always wants to be better. He’s always working on self-improvement.”

Williams is a year shy of his degree because he declared for the NBA draft after his junior season at West Virginia, then got passed over and wound up starting his pro career in Melbourne, Australia. His oldest brother, Deangelo, has been in prison since Devin was 10. His other brother, Donshae, was shot and killed on a Cincinnati street shortly before Devin’s junior year of high school. He wears 41 because that was Donshae’s number.

That background forced Williams to “mature a little bit faster, take on responsibilities,” he said. “For the most part it gave me a motive, a reason to make a better life for myself and my family.”

After that junior year in Cincinnati, Williams finished high school at Montverde Academy in Florida, where he played on a national championship team that included Ben Simmons and D’Angelo Russell, two rising NBA stars. Williams knows he can compete at the next level.

“I can play with anybody,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time and a matter of continuing to sharpen my mind and work on my body. I continue to stay passionate and hungry and relentless, and never let go of my dreams.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

[email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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