PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Adam Miller remembers the first time he saw Da’Monte Williams play.
Miller was a fourth grader, Williams and his friends were in junior high. It was a basketball game on the south end of Peoria.
“They played older than their age, so serious. Seems like they never lost,” Miller said. “He was like a Michael Jordan to me before I saw Michael Jordan.”
The two former Manual High School stars work out at the same Peoria area gym and frequently get up shots at the same elementary school net. They’ll be teammates when they suit up for the University of Illinois this season.
They’ve know each other a long time and Miller calls Williams his older brother. It’s a title the Illini senior gladly accepts.
“Whenever he asks something, on the court of off the court, I just try to be there for him. Good or bad, I try to be there for him,” said Williams, who is entering his final season at Illinois. “Just so he can can the feel of how college is. How Coach (Brad) Underwood wants us to play, stuff like that.”
In high school, they really only played together for two months. Williams suffered a season-ending knee injury in December of his senior year and that ended their days on the floor together.
Now summer training is getting the Peoria duo hungry to play a full season together for the first time. They can’t wait to do it on a big stage in the Big Ten.
“I feel like that’s real special. Having two Peoria kids going to a high-level school doing the thing they love to do. That’s a good plus for the city,” Williams said.
Miller comes to the Illini as one of the top high school recruits in the nation for the class of 2020. He thinks he’ll feel right at home with Williams again.
“I actually get to play with him and spend time with him. On the court is a different feeling,” Miller said. “And being able to be with him is a blessing because I grew up watching him.”