FIU Men’s Basketball adds firepower for upcoming season

Nick Guadarrama and John Williams Jr. side-by-side. (Photos by UNH Athletics and Glenville State Athletics. )

Brian Olmo / Staff Writer 

The 305 Takeover is in full effect for FIU Basketball. 

After a disappointing performance last season, FIU men’s basketball has added talented new transfers to bolster their squad. Headlining these new additions are senior Glenville State guard John Williams Jr, senior New Hampshire forward Nick Guadarrama and graduate Hartford guard Austin Williams.

Williams Jr., 6’4, 190 lbs, played 28 games for the Glenville State Pioneers and led the team in scoring, averaging 24.4 points per game. Last season, he was the second-highest scorer in all of Division II basketball. He dropped a career-high 52 points at Frostburg State on 19-24 shooting. 

Explosive speed and dynamic scoring are Williams Jr.’s most noticeable attributes. His quick cuts to the basket usually result in a tough layup or a vicious dunk. But Williams Jr. isn’t only speed. His tricky handles allow him to spin defenders and create separation with relative ease. A solid three point shooter, Williams Jr hits 30.1% of his shots from deep.

Guadarrama, 6’5, 250 lbs, started all 25 games for the UNH Wildcats last season and averaged 12.7 points per game. He was second on the team in blocked shots with 14 for the season. Guadarrama’s output helped land him a spot on the All-American East Conference Second Team. He was the 34th player in UNH history to reach 1,000 career points. 

Guadarrama has excellent size and strength for a forward, using his build to bully smaller opponents in the paint. Opposing players guarding Guadarrama sometimes leave him open for three, which can be a fatal error as he is an adept shooter from distance. 

Defensively, Guadarrama boxes out opponents to pull down rebounds and has the length to contest and block shots in his vicinity. In the 2020-21 season, he recorded double-digit rebounds in seven of the 25 games.

Austin Williams laying the ball up. (Photo by the University of Hartford Athletics.)

Williams, 6’4, 200 lbs, averaged 16.1 points per game, sixth best in his conference, and 5.2 rebounds per game in his final season with the Hartford Hawks. He was named to the American East Conference First Team twice and won Most Outstanding Player in 2021-22. 

If efficiency is what the Panthers wanted, they got it in Williams. Last season, his shooting percentage ranked No. 76 in the nation, shooting 50.8% from the field. His shooting percentage was third-best in America East and the ninth-best in Hartford’s history. 

Solid rebounding and perimeter defense are pivotal parts of Williams’ all-around game. He recorded a season-high 11 boards and five steals, showing that he is capable of crashing the glass effectively and pickpocketing opposing guards. His average of 1.1 steals per game was tied for fifth-highest in the league. 

Denver Jones calling out plays. (Photo by FIU Athletics.)

All three of these additions help fill holes the Panthers needed to fill. After the departure of the team’s leading scorer in guard Tevin Brewer, FIU needed to add new offensive weapons. Williams Jr., Guadarrama and Williams are just that. 

The Panthers retained sophomore guard Denver Jones, who had a standout freshman season, averaging 12.5 points per game on 38.8% field-goal percentage. Jones had a season-high 23 points against Southern Miss with seven 3-pointers. 

Other additions to the team include Putnam Science Academy guards Da’shon Gittens and Arturo Dean, Combine Academy guard Jayden Brewer and MCS center Darryon Prescott. 

The amount of talent on its way to the FIU men’s basketball team is a promising sign of things to come. A mesh of veteran players and raw, young talent makes for an interesting team to watch next season.

Follow Brian Olmo on Twitter at @Brian_Olmo11