Sophomore Tigers retooled, refocused

Williams said he's now comfortable shooting up to 24 feet from the basket.
Missouri Tigers sophomore guard Wes Clark (15) poses for a portrait Oct. 1 at Mizzou Arena.

Sophomore power forward Johnathan Williams III was making his way off of the practice court.

But first, he visited a place he wasn’t too familiar with last season — the three-point line.

Williams stepped toward the top of the key, and without coming to a full stop, lifted his left arm, basketball resting in his palm. He snapped his wrist and watched the ball ascend, descend, hit the middle of the backboard’s square and fall through the hoop.

It wasn’t the exact shot Williams worked on during the offseason, but it was close.

The sophomore, who attempted just 11 three-pointers last season, said he has expanded his range to approximately 24 feet.

“Rather than just being one-dimensional, I want to be able to do a lot things — be, like, three-dimensional,” Williams said.

Confidence — according to sophomore guard Wes Clark, that’s all Williams needed to boost his shooting.

“He’s not timid to take the shot. He’s more a scoring impact,” Clark said. “We can count on him for shots, we can count on him for buckets.”

Confidence — Clark said it’s changing him as well. The guard said he spent last season worrying “about things instead of letting plays go and moving onto the next.”

“Now I’m just a little more confident in myself,” Clark said. “Got a little more passion, more courage in the game now.”

Clark said he’s different from last season, when he averaged more than 20 minutes per game as a freshman but missed the Tigers’ last two games with a suspension after being arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana.

Missouri coach Kim Anderson said he sees the difference.

“From the time I got here to today, I’ve really done a 180 on Wes Clark,” the first-year Mizzou head coach said.

Clark will likely play significant minutes at point guard this season. And Williams is projected to be Missouri’s starting power forward once again. If he’s able to shoot consistently from deep, that’ll be a boon for a Mizzou team that loses more than 70 percent of its scoring from last season.

Williams said his increased range will give Clark “more space and opportunities to make plays.”

When those opportunities arise, confidence will be key.

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