At times Florida point guard Jason Williams can be extraordinary. His Allen Iverson-model crossover dribble has everything except cornrows. His no-look passes have left WILSON tattooed on more than one Gators' forehead. "I've learned to have my hands up and my eyes wide open when he has the ball," Florida junior forward Greg Stolt says. "He has hit me in the face."
It's the ordinary that has tripped up Williams: making the easy pass, going to class, learning to fit his Ferrari game into a fleet of Saturns. "I'll be the first to admit I'm hardheaded," says Williams, a junior who as of Sunday led the 13-9 Gators in scoring (17.1), assists (6.7), steals (2.7), tattoos (three) and suspensions (two). He sat out the season opener as punishment for missing too many classes last February, when he went home to Belle, W.Va., for three weeks, intent on quitting school. Last month he was suspended again for sulking after being benched and refusing to join a Gators huddle during a loss at Arkansas. "I was getting frustrated with my teammates and myself," Williams says. "I realized they're not able to do some of the things I think they can. I've gotten better at realizing who I'm throwing the ball to and what they can do if they catch it."
Florida is the third college Williams has signed with in five years, and it's his second school with Donovan. He committed to Providence in 1994 but was released from his commitment after coach Puck Barnes left for Clemson. Donovan persuaded Williams to join him at Marshall, where he redshirted a season before making the 1995-96 Southern Conference all-freshman team. Shortly after that season Donovan accepted the job at Florida and Williams transferred there, even though he had to sit out another year.
Williams had three double doubles in his first six games at Florida. Unfortunately for him, one of them was a 21-point, 12-turnover performance in an 83-81 loss to Florida State. As he controls his game, so go the Gators. He had 24 points, four assists and three turnovers in an 86-78 victory at then seventh-ranked Kentucky on Feb. 1. Ten days later, toward the end of a 26-point, seven-assist show in an 81-64 victory over Auburn, he finished a fast break by throwing a no-look pass backward to Stolt. With hands up and eyes open, Stolt caught the ball but missed a dunk. It Williams had a reaction, he didn't show it. Another obstacle overcome.