IOWA CITY — On the eve of its first exhibition game in preparation for the coming season, the Iowa basketball team has one less player.
Christian Williams, who began last season as the Hawkeyes’ starting point guard, has announced plans to transfer out of the program.
“Christian informed me today of his decision,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said in a news release issued by the university. “Christian is a terrific young man with tremendous character. We are disappointed that Christian will no longer be a Hawkeye, but the players and coaches wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
The 6-foot-5 Williams played in 54 games over the past two seasons but after starting the first six games last season, he figured to be in a battle for playing time on a very deep team this season. He was projected to play more as a shooting guard or small forward while battling fellow junior Brady Ellingson for the backup point guard job behind sophomore Jordan Bohannon.
Williams averaged just 2.4 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 0.8 steals while playing 34 games a year ago, mostly as Bohannon’s backup. As a freshman in the 2015-2016 season, the former Decatur (Illinois) St. Teresa star played in 20 games, averaging 1.4 points per game.
Williams will finish out his academic requirements this semester before transferring. He said in a statement in the university’s news release that he reached his decision “after careful consideration and discussions with my family.
“I would like to finish my athletic and academic goals closer to home,’’ he said. “I would like to thank coach McCaffery and my teammates for their understanding and support with this decision.”
It is possible Williams’ departure could alter McCaffery’s decision to redshirt his son, Connor, who planned to sit out this season while focusing on baseball in his first year at Iowa.
When asked about the backup point guard job at the team’s preseason media day last week, McCaffery said Williams and Ellingson were playing well but he didn’t completely discount the possibility of using Connor this season.
“I mean, obviously if we had to play him we could,’’ he said. “He's really a terrific player at that position, so we'll see. We've got plenty of options.’’
Iowa takes on William Jewell in a preseason exhibition game tonight at 7 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.