To no surprise, UTEP redshirt junior Bryson Williams was named to the 2019-20 C-USA First Team, announced Monday.

He is the first Miner to be recognized to the conference first team in five years, joining elite company in program history.

You have to look back to Vince Hunter (2014-15), who was last named onto the first team. Others such as Randy Culpepper (2011, 2010), Stefon Jackson (2008, 2007) and John Tofi (2006) were named onto the all-conference first team as well.

And boy, what a special player Williams has been.

All throughout the offseason, the staff beamed about how good of a player Williams would be this year with the group. They knew he could play inside offensively, using his hitch-style shot to be a dominant forward in the paint. But this year, Williams added a new element to his game to make him that much more dominant—a consistent 3-point shot.

Mix his offensive strengths with his ability to guard anyone on the floor, 1-5, and you have Williams—one of the most elite single-seasons of any UTEP basketball players in recent memory.

Through his struggles down the stretch, it's evident that opposing defenses have "sold out" on Williams and forced him into double-team situations.

Statistically, there's no comparison. Williams has been leaps and bounds better this year than his solid freshman and sophomore seasons at Fresno State.

 

Williams is currently third in the league in points per game (17.6) and total points (546). He's also fifth in rebounds per game (7.1), ranks fourth in field-goal percentage (50.0), fifth in free-throws made (114) and sixth in free-throw percentage (82.0).

Let's go deeper into his stats.

For defensive win shares, which estimates the number of wins contributed by a player due to his defense, Williams is first in the conference (2.0). He's played the most games in the league (31) and is one of the highest usage players on offense in the conference (3rd).

He has five double-doubles this year, ranking fourth in the league. He leads UTEP in blocked shots (27) and has been named C-USA Player of the Week three times this season. He's had three 30-point games this year, including a career-high 34 against UTSA.

Williams scored in double-digits in 25 games, and in 11 of those matchups, he scored over 20.

He was the only UTEP men's basketball player to earn an All-Conference honor.

So what does this recognition mean for the future of Williams? The redshirt junior is the most talented player in the conference, while UTSA's Jhivvan Jackson has put together a four-year career deserving of a Player of the Year recognition after this season.

Because of the new NBA Draft rules, where players can test their skills and obtain a "draft grade," Williams can see if he has a shot at being drafted, or can also return back to school for his senior year.

If you want Williams to stay, the best-case scenario is he returns for his senior season and comes back as the C-USA Player of the Year frontrunner of 2021. On the opposite side, worst-case scenario is that Williams leaves as a graduate transfer.

By the means of how he and the team closed out the season, Williams might elect to stay, which is something huge for the Miners. Despite the roller-coaster season, having Williams as a foundational piece for next year could lead to significant steps forward in the program.

But this season showed that Williams needs relief and cannot be solely relied upon. He's averaging 10.75 points through these past four games and he's been worn out. In order for Williams—and UTEP—to succeed, this season proved that the Miners need support around the stellar forward.

ALL-CONFERENCE USA FIRST TEAM

  • DaQuan Bracey, LA Tech
  • Javion Hamlet, North Texas
  • Bryson Williams, UTEP
  • Jhivvan Jackson, UTSA
  • Taveion Hollingsworth, WKU

ALL-CONFERENCE USA SECOND TEAM

  • Osasumwen Osaghae, FIU
  • Devon Andrews, FIU
  • Taevion Kinsey, Marshall
  • Umoja Gibson, North Texas
  • Keaton Wallace, UTSA

ALL-CONFERENCE USA THIRD TEAM

  • Jahmir Young, Charlotte
  • Jordan Shepard, Charlotte
  • Jarrod West, Marshall
  • Carson Williams, WKU
  • Jared Savage, WKU