De La Salle senior Tavariyuan Williams is a bright-eyed, smart kid who looks you in the eye when he answers a question.
But his gaze drifts skyward when he thinks back on the events of last November.
“It’s a lot to reflect on,” Williams said. “I don’t believe I was supposed to be here now. But God had other plans for me.”
Williams and his two brothers were shot on Nov. 6, 2022, the day before basketball practice began last season. All three survived.
“I’m just so happy to be here,” Wiliams said. “Just to be at practice. This is what I missed last year, all of this stuff. I’m just taking it all in.”
Williams was shot twice in the back. The brothers were sitting on their porch in Auburn Gresham.
“[The shooters] just some young kids,” Williams said. “They were caught. I don’t get it. I don’t get the intentions behind it.”
Williams returned to the basketball court about two months later, but he wasn’t anywhere near full strength. The 6-6 wing played well over the summer and is considered one of the top 30 seniors in the state.
“I tell him every day that he’s blessed,” Meteors coach Gary DeCesare said. “He and his brothers got very lucky.”
Williams, 6-4 senior Richard Lindsey and guard Bryant Hedrick provide the Meteors with a solid senior foundation. Williams hasn’t played a varsity season at full strength and is excited to prove himself.
“It’s been a year since the incident and you can see the difference,” Lindsey said. “He’s a lot faster, stronger and more explosive.”
DeCesare is excited for the city to finally see Williams play. But he’s more concerned with finding his players college scholarships. The current recruiting climate is rough for high school players.
“Wiliams is a point forward,” DeCesare said. “He’s tough to guard because he’s 6-5 and very creative with the ball. He’s a talented, sharp kid.”
The Meteors will play 11 consecutive road games in four different states.
“You have to really go out and get the kids exposure,” DeCesare said. “You can’t just be in one state. The college coaches don’t want to work anymore. They just want to recruit on a computer screen now, from the transfer portal.”
Senior guard Bryant Hedrick will provide some experience to a talented young backcourt featuring sophomores Charles Barnes and Morgan Travis.
“Barnes has started to come into his own,” DeCesare said. “And not as many people know about Travis, but he is playing really well.”
De La Salle was 22-12 last season and lost to Fenwick in the Class 3A sectional semifinals. Williams wants more this year.
“We could be a top team in the state,” Williams said. “This group of young men is capable of it.”