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UT lands guard from Michigan

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Tod Kowalczyk had unwittingly struck a chord.

As the Toledo men's basketball coach made his pitch to Detroit-area prospect Jon Williams last season, he mentioned his relationship with Dwyane Wade. Kowalczyk coached the NBA superstar for two seasons as an assistant at Marquette, and the two remain in contact. He even showed Williams, a 6-foot-3 guard from Southfield-Lathrup, a recent congratulatory text message to his former player.

The recruit beamed.

"That's my favorite player, so he kind of sold me on that," Williams said, laughing.

In truth, a lot sold him on Toledo, and on Monday he became the third regional recruit in 24 hours to inform Kowalczyk he wants in.

A day after Napoleon guard Jordan Lauf and Vanlue center Zach Garber verbally committed to UT, Williams did the same. He is the third member of the Rockets' 2013 recruiting class.

Williams, who averaged 27 points and six assists as a junior last season, chose UT over scholarship offers from Detroit Mercy, Oakland, Cleveland State, and Central Michigan among other mid-major schools. He planned to hold off on his commitment in anticipation of interest from a bigger program but ultimately decided Toledo offered the "perfect" fit.

"It would be a dumb decision for me to go to a school that wasn't actively recruiting me where I probably wouldn't get as much playing time," said Williams, ranked by ESPN.com as Michigan's 12th-best prospect in his class. "I figure I can get things done at the University of Toledo."

At Toledo, he will have the opportunity to contribute immediately and play his preferred position. While many schools recruited him strictly as a point guard, UT saw Williams as a combo guard.

"He's good off the ball, but he can play the ball as well," said his father, Jonathan Williams. "I coached high school myself, and I thought he was a two guard that can play the one."

Kowalczyk also sold Williams on Toledo's future by selling his past, including Toledo's 15-game turnaround in his second season with the Rockets — not to mention the connection to Wade.

"If he coached Dwyane Wade, and Dwyane Wade is in the NBA," Williams said, "then I feel like the sky's the limit for me."

Contact David Briggs at dbriggs@theblade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.

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