Cody Williams’ improvement both physically and mentally from his freshman to sophomore years has become one of the leading factors for the success Perry High School boys basketball team has had this season.
At 6-foot-6, the Wing still handles the ball as well as any point guard and can shoot from virtually anywhere on the floor. His improvement, thanks to his offseason work in club basketball and private trainer Paul Suber, has allowed him to become one of the top recruits in the 2023 class.
But more than that, he’s become one of Perry’s go-to players in late-game situations.
“I love Cody,” Perry basketball coach Sam Duane Jr. said. “Cody earned his stripes last year as a freshman and now he is really starting to come into his own. His best basketball is ahead for him.”
Trailing Mountain Pointe by six points late in the fourth quarter on Feb. 16, Williams took over.
He willed his team back from the deficit and managed to help the Pumas secure a two-point advantage with just seconds remaining. A strong defensive play by Perry on the Pride’s ensuing possession led to a turnover.
Williams’ ability to help lead his team back from a deficit and secure a win came while battling a back injury that occurred in the first quarter. As a result, he did not start the second half of the game. He managed to fight through the stiffness and pain to finish the game.
“I knew I had to tough it out. I just want to win,” Williams said. “My teammates spaced the floor. We got into our five-out and when someone was cutting the defense had to pay attention, which opened driving lanes. We were all a big part of that come back.”
Williams’ love for basketball isn’t uncommon in his family. His older brother, Jalen, graduated from Perry in 2019 and went on to play for Santa Clara – which offered the younger Williams a scholarship as well.
While different players, Duane Jr. sees some similarities between the two brothers. Mostly, it’s their ability to be coached and willingness to improve on a consistent basis.
That was made apparent after sports were shut down last spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. Williams, 6-foot-2 at the time, went to work. He trained wherever he could with Suber before taking a break in the summer. When he returned, he was 6-foot-6.
But with his growth came extra work.
“I had to improve my ball-handling,” Williams said. “Even if you grow an inch, you kind of lose that touch. I had to keep up with that and I was able to extend my range. I’m a great shooter now. Those are the things I’ve improved on a lot.”
Williams’ play this season has caught the eyes of Division I basketball schools. Along with Santa Clara, Murray State and UC-Santra Barbara have also extended scholarship offers to the sophomore.
While obtaining scholarship offers is a milestone in itself, Williams remains focused on the season at hand.
“I’m not really thinking about it right now,” he said. “I’m grateful and its motivating, but I’m just kind of playing basketball and focusing on winning a state championship right now.”
At 10-1 heading into its matchup against Red Mountain on Tuesday, Feb. 23, Perry is in contention for the top overall seed in the upcoming 6A tournament.
The Pumas were ranked second overall in the last rankings released by the Arizona Interscholastic Association but made a case for the No. 1 spot with a loss by previously unbeaten Sunnyslope and wins against Mountain Pointe, Queen Creek and top-five Basha the week prior.
Perry is playing with a renewed sense of confidence as it is led by Williams, 7-foot junior Dylan Anderson and senior point guard Christian Tucker. Overall, the momentum they carry into each week continues to build.
“Nobody is second guessing themselves anymore,” Williams said. “We go out and play great and then do it again the next night. Really, it’s boosted our confidence and our energy.”