At the beginning of his basketball career, Cody Williams did not play the position that is listed on his 247 Sports recruiting profile.
As opposed to the role of small forward, he served as point guard when he was younger. This coming season, the junior is returning to his roots.
Williams has been working as the floor general ahead of this season, in which Perry returns four-star center and Arizona commit Dylan Anderson and introduces highly touted freshman small forward Koa Peat.
“I’ve gotten bigger and stronger,” Williams said. “Now, I’m starting at the one. I learn point guard skills and just learning how to control tempo of the game.”
Coming off a first-place finish in the 6A Premier Division in 2020, Perry won two of four games at the Section 7 basketball tournament at State Farm Stadium to secure a berth in the showcase’s finals. The Pumas fell in its first-round matchup against Mater Dei High School 63-51 at Brophy College Preparatory in Pheonix.
Following the departures of guards Christian Tucker and DeMarco Wiley, Williams — playing a position that is responsible for organizing an offense that averaged 61 points last season — will serve as one of the team’s veterans this season. The same goes for Anderson, a senior who stands at seven feet tall.
Strong performances from the upperclassmen will be key as the Pumas look towards a state championship. According to head coach Sam Duane Jr., Williams’ versatility in the backcourt will enable him to facilitate plays and find ways to the basket, depending on the circumstances. Anderson, the 2021 Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year, has impressed Duane with his play in the post and outside shooting.
“Great person, great teammate, very good player,” Duane said of Anderson. “Every year he’s gotten stronger and more confident. Every year he’s gotten better.”
Anderson, who chose the Wildcats over programs such as Arizona State, Gonzaga, Michigan and North Carolina, is aspiring to bring a state title to Gilbert before he heads roughly 100 miles southeast to Tucson. Williams is a player who can help Perry achieve that feat. And colleges are starting to take notice.
After receiving offers from Santa Clara, Murray State and the University of California, Santa Barbara last season, Williams — whose brother Jalen, a Perry alumnus, plays at Santa Clara — now has offers from Division I programs such as Texas, the University of Southern California and Arizona State. The two Pac-12 programs offered following the Section 7 showcase.
The 6-foot-7 Williams, who has grown five inches since the spring of 2020, suffered a groin injury that held him out for six weeks. After Perry’s opening Section 7 game against Seattle Prep, Duane said Williams was gradually improving.
In addition to having skilled players in Anderson and Williams, the Pumas have another asset: a great friendship between the two.
“We really just can come to each other about anything,” Anderson said. “(We’re) really just brothers now.”
Anderson said it is going to be different seeing Williams handle the ball more as a point guard rather than a small forward, but that his teammate is getting used to his new role.
Joining Anderson, Williams and the Pumas is Peat, who has eight Power 5 offers including Arizona, Kansas and Texas. He received his first collegiate offer from Arizona State in eighth grade.
Graduating in 2025, the six-foot-seven forward is continuing his family’s connection with Duane. Brothers Andrus — an offensive lineman for the New Orleans Saints and former five-star recruit who signed with Stanford — and Cassius played under the coach and won state championships at Corona Del Sol High School in Tempe.
After going 15-3 in 2020, Perry is heading into its upcoming campaign in a different place. Athletes have switched positions, new guards are being broken into the team’s system and first-year players are finding their footing.
“We’re a whole different team,” Duane Jr. said. “We’re gonna be a whole different identity.”
Yet two familiar faces return, one in the frontcourt and one in the backcourt.
Both Anderson and Williams are game changers when they take the court, and their bond will be a key factor in the next stage of Pumas basketball.
“If you win and play hard,” Williams said, “all the good stuff will come with it.”